Will D’Angelo Russell Break the Buckeyes’ Trend of Draft Busts?


After years of disappointment, will D’Angelo Russell be the Buckeye to live up to his expectations?

Joining future Hall of Fame shooting guard Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, D’Angelo Russell looks ready for professional stardom.

Just a few nights ago, Russell was picked second overall in the NBA draft by the Lakers. Despite late rumblings, Los Angeles surprised many fans and pundits by taking the point guard out of Ohio State.

By most accounts, the Lakers made the best decision with their selection. In a league that has shifted away from dominant big men, to a focus on small ball and guard play, Russell was seemingly the perfect pick for Los Angeles.

The former star Buckeye shared his immediate thoughts with ESPN after he was selected:

"“I just really want him to take me under his wing and gain every piece of knowledge that I can possibly gain and just go from there. That franchise isn’t used to losing, and I’m a winning player. They got winning players, winning coaching staff, everybody’s used to winning there. I feel like I’ll fit in great.”"

Pairing a potential superstar in Russell with Bryant, NBA All-Rookie First-Team guard Jordan Clarkson, 2014 seventh overall pick forward Julius Randle, and the recipe for success is certainly there.

Add in that the Lakers have plenty of cap room at their disposal to work with once free agency begins this upcoming Wednesday (July 1), and Los Angeles looks primed to bounce back next season in a big way.

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How well the Lakers hope to do will still rest on Russell’s shoulders, though.

Sure he has the goods to deliver on his lofty draft slot, but Russell will be fighting an uphill battle that has been carved out by other highly touted Buckeyes before him. Most players that have left Ohio State to pursue their dream of playing in the NBA have not fared well in the Association, particularly in recent years.

Since 2007, eight Buckeyes have been drafted in the first round. Many have been labeled busts, while even more could not sustain any form of success.

Whether it be former No.1 pick Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, or even Byron Mullens, all have underwhelmed in some sort of fashion.

More recently, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger have been bitten by this dreaded Buckeye basketball bug.

Turner was taken second overall in 2010 and is currently on his third different team, that being the Boston Celtics. Joining him on the Celtics is also Sullinger, who is admittedly close to being labeled as a bust in his own right.

Sullinger has shown flashes when on the court, but constant injury issues have really prevented him from reaching his full potential. Trade talks involving the New York Knicks and “Sully” arose just prior to the draft last week.

Feb 19, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (7) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Celtics 100-94. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Conley Jr., who was drafted in 2007, stands alone amongst the sea of disappointing Buckeyes.

He’s had a very productive and successful career up to this point with the Memphis Grizzlies as their franchise point guard. Conley is an elite defender and a smart, crafty veteran whose offensive skill has only grown since he entered the Association. He all but shattered his label as one of the game’s most underrated players a few months ago in the playoffs.

Out of all of the players that were mentioned, including the handful that weren’t, a case can be truly made for Russell being the most talented. Which, in all honesty, he likely will be in a fairly short amount of time.

Will Russell fall prey to the same respective fates as many former Buckeyes have? Don’t count on it.

He’s got the goods on offense as well as on defense. His confidence is through the roof, and there’s no denying Russell’s ability to elevate his team’s play, something he did all too often at Ohio State.

The chances of him becoming a superstar in the NBA are pretty high and that’s exactly why the Lakers chose him over transcendent center Jahlil Okafor.

Will Russell fall prey to the same respective fates as many former Buckeyes have? Don’t count on it.

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