APRIL 22ND, 5:00pm: Russell has officially decided to enter the draft, Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com reports. “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 said. “I know what I am capable of and the sky’s the limit with effort. I know I have a lot to work on.“
APRIL 12TH, 9:38pm: Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell plans to declare for the draft within the next two days, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). There’s been no official announcement from Russell’s camp, but the news is hardly surprising given the 19-year-old point guard’s sky-high draft stock. Both Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com list him as the fourth best prospect in this year’s class, behind only Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Russell was not as heralded as some other prospects in this year’s draft class when the season began, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors detailed in his prospect profile of the likely soon-to-be lottery pick, but his stock rose significantly as the NCAA season rolled on. At 6’5”, he’s capable of playing either guard position in the NBA, and even though he doesn’t possess freak athleticism, he’s an intelligent playmaker who can score in bunches and also improve his teammates.
While Mudiay’s stock is higher than Russell’s at the moment, this year’s crop of guard’s doesn’t extend very deep. Outside of the pair of guards I just mentioned, no ones or twos in the draft stand out as potential stars, and Russell’s average marks of 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists definitely show he’s got the chance to excel at the next level.