Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell is off to the NBA after being named a first team All-American in his only collegiate season, according to a report by ESPN.com.
Russell declared for the 2015 NBA Draft on Wednesday after he led the Buckeyes with 19.3 points per game as a freshman last season, helping the team to a 24-11 record and an appearance in the round-of-32 in the NCAA Tournament.
During an interview with ESPN.com, Russell said declaring for the NBA Draft was a “hard decision,” and added that he would have loved to play for OSU coach Thad Matta for one more year.
“But at the same time I wanted to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA,” Russell said during the interview Wednesday. “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 is projected to be a top-five pick in the draft after becoming the second-highest scoring freshman in program history. On top of leading the team in scoring, Russell also led the Buckeyes with 5.7 rebounds per game and finished second on the team with 175 assists and 55 steals.
The Louisville, Ky., native is OSU’s first “one-and-done” player since B.J. Mullens, who declared for the 2009 NBA Draft after just one season in Columbus.
Coming out of Montverde Academy, Russell was ESPN’s 13th overall prospect, but the 6-foot, 5-inch guard decided to make the leap to the NBA after starting every OSU game he played.
“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.”
After Russell’s announcement, the Buckeyes are set to lose six players from the 2014-15 roster. In addition to Russell, Matta’s squad will be without senior centers Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, senior guard Shannon Scott, senior forward Sam Thompson and redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee.
OSU is also set to bring in five new recruits in guards JaQuan Lyle, Austin Grandstaff and A.J. Harris, forward Mickey Mitchell and center Daniel Giddens. All five players are rated as four-star recruits by ESPN.
While the Buckeyes readjust to life without their leading scorer, Russell will have to wait until the draft on June 25 in New York to find out his professional fate.