It is here. The basketball time is officially here. You shouldn't have to take off work for what should be a national holiday, but I hope some of you did.
If you haven't joined our NCAA Tournament challenge, there's still time! Provided, of course, you aren't reading this after the first games started.
- 7-foot center Ibrahima Diallo will soon decide between Ohio State and Pittsburgh.
- What Chris Holtmann accomplished his first two seasons has been astonishing.
- Pro day is over, here are the NFL teams several Buckeyes will be visiting next.
- Dwayne Haskins and the receivers shined at Ohio Sate's pro day Wednesday.
- For Dre'Mont Jones, pro day felt like a break from his busy schedule.
- This is going to be a huge weekend for recruiting visitors.
Word of the Day: Alexithymia.
REMINISCING WITH COACH. In a few weeks, Dwayne Haskins is going to be a multi-millionaire quarterback in the highest level of football. But before he gets there, he got to hang out with his old position coach and watch some film – some beautiful, some not so very.
The Film Room: @dh_simba7 is back for #OSUProDay and spent time with his old QB coach @ryandaytime breaking down some film & reliving his development from backup quarterback to Heisman finalist.#DevelopedHere #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/XHv1Wk5Fa0— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 20, 2019
It's crazy how quickly Haskins went from not even performing a basic protection check to a first-round draft pick. But honestly, it's not just him. It's crazy how quickly everything about the lives of both guys in that video changed within just a few months.
A year ago, the dude on the left hadn't even started a college game and the guy on the right had only been at Ohio State for one season and most folks still thought he played second fiddle to Kevin Wilson.
Now, you're looking at arguably the best quarterback in the NFL Draft and the new CEO of Buckeye football. What a wild, wild ride these past few months have been.
BUILT FOR THIS. It wasn't too long ago D'Angelo Russell was carrying a decidedly subpar Ohio State squad into the NCAA Tournament. Now, he's an All-Star putting NBA teams on his back in the fourth quarter. He's having an absurd, breakout season and is even getting featured on the cover of SLAM magazine.
Russell talked to SLAM about his development as a basketball player, from a child hooping at grandmas house, to a high school player wanting to quit his team because of playing time, to a rocky rookie season, to a trade, to still not playing up to his potential, to present-day All-Star.
Basically, the only phase of his life D-Lo didn't talk about was the time he spent at Ohio State, which was just what a Buckeye blogger wanted out of some March content featuring the best Ohio State player of the past decade.
Regardless, the article did talk about his monster season, so that'll work for me.
From Max Resetar of SlamOnine.com:
“It was tough to begin the season,” Nets’ forward Jared Dudley says. “He was getting benched in fourth quarters. He was struggling offensively, trying to find his role. Caris took off and to see [Russell] cheer on the bench, take constructive criticism in film sessions and it finally clicked. I think it took Caris’ injury and him to be a little more aggressive and the coaches to have a little more faith. But he’s responded. Once he got his rhythm, his confidence just kept building.”
Russell flipped everything about his game once he was given the reins. Floaters, midrange fadeaways, rainbow three-pointers, ice-in-his-veins buckets in close games, they all started to fall. Forty points and a game-winner in Orlando. Thirty-six points, 8 assists and 7 boards to outlast the Cavaliers in a triple-overtime marathon. A 34-point outing against the Celtics; a night with 14 dimes against the Raptors; a 22-point and 13-assist performance in a win over the Lakers. An absurd 44-point performance in Sacramento, that included 27 points in the fourth quarter, en route to a 28-point comeback. Averages of 23.6 points and 7.7 assists since January 1. And a wild performance on his 23rd birthday, one that both D’Angelo and Antonio count as their favorite moment of the season.
“I surprised myself,” Russell says about that night in Charlotte when he scored the Nets’ final 12 points. “I just looked up and I had 40. Damn.”
He was a pleasure to watch for a year in Columbus. He was so talented he clearly had absolutely no business playing on that team.
I'll never forget the feeling I had as a college student when he eventually declared for the NBA Draft. I knew damn well it was coming, but it still felt like the dude had just lapped me in life. He came to Ohio State a year after me, and was a millionaire before the end of my second year.
Four years later, he's an All-Star and I'm sitting at computer in an unairconditioned attic repurposing articles written about him for a sports blog. I clearly got the last laugh!
PSA: DRAFT A BUCKEYE RECEIVER. Any of them. If an NFL team is in need of a receiver, just pick a Buckeye and write it on your draft card, because it's looking like you can't be wrong.
You've got two physical freaks:
Since 2000, WRs that are 205lbs+ and ran sub 4.35— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 20, 2019
Surprisingly, only 14 WRs in last 20 years. Both Ohio State WRs made the list - Parris Campbell (6'0 205 4.31) and Terry McLaurin (6'0 208 4.35)
And yea... DK pic.twitter.com/CgPfsNoUCL
And an all-around gem:
An NFL assistant told me outside of the Woody Hayes Center after Pro Day that he thinks Johnnie Dixon has the most natural receiver skillset on Ohio State's roster.— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) March 20, 2019
Campbell's been getting fringe first-round projections since the end of the season, but McLaurin's been climbing the draft boards with all of his workouts. And his performance at pro day, we might officially be on first-round watch for Terry McLaurin.
The only time two Buckeye receivers were ever taken in the first round were Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez in 2007.
Weirdly enough, I can see a comparison. Campbell, like Ginn, is one of the fastest humans my eyes have ever seen while McLaurin, like Gonzo, is a do-it-all guy who absolutely has the charisma to win public office one day.
BEST PRO DAY YET. Dwayne Haskins slung it today and the receivers looked every bit as impressive as you'd hope, but they didn't have anywhere close to the best pro day performance across the nation.
Amazing moment at USC Pro Day. Jake Olson, their blind long snapper, just had 17 reps on the bench press to raise funds for retinoblastoma, which took his eyesight. pic.twitter.com/kSxWZxanAX— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) March 20, 2019
If I even attempted to bench a single rep of 225 pounds the bar would be crushing my trachea before I could exhale.
Huge props to Jake and his cause and for doing something I couldn't do with a gun to my cat's head.
ONE LAST CHANCE. Unless you're reading this in the afternoon, you've still got time to hop in our NCAA Tournament Challenge. Hop on in and kick my ass. I've got Duke winning it all, because I'm a square who's sick of losing his national champion in the first two rounds by trying to get cute.
If Zion and the Monstars get dumped in the first two rounds, I'll gladly tip my cap and return to my blogging hole.
Whoever does do the ultimate win will earn an Evan Turner signed Sports Illustrated cover, a Jared Sullinger signed basketball and $100 worth of stuff from Eleven Warriors Dry Goods.
Regretfully, we were unable to obtain any Oleh Onopriienko memorabilia. The dude kept strong-arming us.
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