D'Angelo Russell took a while to make his decision, but in the end it was the decision everyone expected him to make.
Russell announced via an interview with ESPN.com on Wednesday that he is declaring for this summer's NBA Draft, foregoing the rest of his eligibility following a fabulous freshman season at Ohio State.
"This was a hard decision because I knew I could come back and play with my teammates who I love, and to be coached by coach Thad Matta again would have been awesome, but at the same time I wanted to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA," Russell told ESPN.com's Paul Biancardi. "I know what I am capable of, and the sky's the limit with effort. I know I have a lot to work on."
Russell was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year this past season, arguably the best player in the conference not named Frank Kaminsky. In 35 games with the Buckeyes, the Louisville native averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and five assists per game. He scored 25 or more points in seven different games, including a 28-point performance in a Round of 32 NCAA tournament win over VCU. He scored more than 30 points twice, led the conference in made 3-pointers and finished second in the Big Ten in scoring, third in assists, sixth in steals, seventh in minutes played, 10th in 3-point percentage and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Russell was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the All-American First Team.
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Russell, who splashed home 3-pointers with ease, had no trouble getting to the rim and wowed with dazzling passes through the lane, is expected to be one of the first players off the board in June's draft.
He's obviously drawing plenty of pro interest, including famously from Knicks president Phil Jackson, who faced a fine for speaking to a reporter about Russell after taking in an Ohio State game.
Russell, though he might not want to be perceived as such, joins the ranks of college basketball's one-and-dones.
"You never know when this opportunity comes," Russell told ESPN.com. "I believe I am ready because my approach was to unpack my bags, get committed to winning and listening to the coaches — as opposed to coming in and saying 'I am a pro' and trying to leave. I wasn't trying to get in and out at Ohio State."