Rated among the best players in the 2014 class, the southpaw from Louisville (he attends Monteverde Academy in Florida) has the skill needed to play anywhere on the perimeter. His versatility will serve the Buckeyes well upon his arrival in Columbus in 2014.
Russell joins forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop and 6-10 center David Bell as 2014 prospects who have committed to Thad Matta’s program. Russell’s decision is a key one for Ohio State, which loses both Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Players due to return in 2014 are point guard Shannon Scott and shooting guards Amadeo Della Valle and Kameron Williams. Scott played more than 20 minutes per game last season, posting averages of 4.9 points and 3.8 assists per contest.
Della Valle played in just 15 games last season, while incoming freshman Williams was a highly-regarded player during his time at Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore.
Below are some highlights from Russell’s junior season.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry