D'Angelo Russell: "I'm just glad we won"
From un-hyped freshman to projected lottery pick, Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell had the best outing of his college career in front of a sold-out crowd Sunday night.
Russell has improved and progressed this season, transforming himself into the second projected pick in the NBA Draft by DraftExpress. While he was ranked No. 13 in high school by ESPN, coming into the season players like Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns were thought to be the cream of the crop in college basketball.
On Sunday, the Ohio State freshman had a triple-double, with 23 points, 11 boards and 11 assists.
“It's a great feeling,” Russell stated regarding his triple-double. “More importantly, I'm just glad we won. Just to be in the same category as those guys is just a blessing. I feel like I've been flirting with it all year and I finally got the chance to do it and we got the win and that was more important to me.''
Gracing the floor with slick passes and smooth jumpers, nothing unusual for the 6’5 guard, he was the firepower for the Buckeyes. Getting the first points of the game for his team, he helped Ohio State in a dominating performance overall.
Russell is the first freshman in Ohio State history to have a triple-double, and is the first player in the Big Ten since Draymond Green in 2012 to record a triple-double, according ESPN Stats & Info.
"I thought he was really, really good tonight. He had great command on the court and affected the game in many different ways,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “Tonight was one of the better performances I have seen in my coaching career. His attention to detail and preparation are as good as I've seen for a freshman. That includes a guy I had at Xavier in David West, who was as tuned in as anyone. D'Angelo looks for advantages on the court and that includes mentally."
Twenty-two NBA scouts/personnel were in attendance for his game against Rutgers, including Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie and Knicks executive Allan Houston.
“He's phenomenal,” an NBA Scout told Jason King about Russell in January. “He needs to improve his point guard skills in terms of his thought process and making the game easier for guys around him.”
Russell’s stellar performance came to a halt in the second half when he needed a little break after experiencing cramping in one of his legs. Despite this, the rising star reentered the game and continued to command the contest.
The freshman is averaging 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season and is ranked third in KenPom’s offensive ratings for college basketball players. One of his most notable performances, excluding his show versus Rutgers, came at the end of January when he scored 33 points against Northwestern.
“He is crazy good. That dude is a baller,” Jay Bilas told Brandon Castel recently. “I don't care what level you put him on. He's the real thing.”