There is no better way for Ohio State fans to put the disappointing 2013-14 college basketball season behind them than to look forward to the future.
McDonald’s All-American D’Angelo Russell will be a primary part of that future.
Russell was a participant in Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago. His East team fell 105-102, but the individual performances of the players are far more important than which team wins when it comes to high school all-star games.
Russell did not disappoint.
Will D'Angelo Russell start next year for Ohio State?
The 247Sports.com 5-star prospect finished with 11 points, four assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes of action, although he did turn the ball over two times.
Don’t let the two turnovers worry you, though, because there is always going to be an inherent level of sloppiness at any all-star game. However, they were the only thing that prevented an "A" from being handed out here.
Russell was fantastic in the first half, but only played sparingly after intermission. Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that may have been because he had to fly to New York City in the game’s aftermath to rejoin his high school team at the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament.
According to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch, one person that Russell impressed during the game was former Big Ten superstar Jalen Rose:
The most notable part of his performance was his court vision and ability to hit open teammates.
He wowed the crowd with an under-the-legs pass to Kansas commit Cliff Alexander—who unfortunately went on to miss the subsequent dunk—but his overall consistency in handling the ball and fitting passes through the seams should have Buckeyes fans excited about his point guard prospects in the future.
Russell also showed off his smooth shooting stroke, which is something Ohio State desperately needs.
Tony Gerdeman of The-Ozone.net thinks Russell may be the go-to guy in Ohio State’s offense next year:
A week or so ago I was asked who would be Ohio State's go-to guy next year. I think I should have said D'Angelo Russell.— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOzone) April 3, 2014
Thad Matta had to reach out of state to land Russell as part of the 2014 recruiting class. Russell is a Louisville, Ky., native who has played the past three high school seasons in Florida, but he told Roberts that he wanted everyone to know where his heart truly lies:
It's just that Florida is getting the credit for what I've done, when it's definitely Louisville. And people start thinking I'm from Florida, when really I'm from Kentucky. I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. And I feel like the people that have worked me out and gotten me to the point where I am today, they're from Louisville.
People know Darrell Griffith, Rajon Rondo, Muhammad Ali. I want to be the next one on the list. So when people name those icons in our state, I want to be known as one of those icons. I don't want to be known as the person that came out of Florida.
If Russell is going to become that icon, he will have to impress right away in Columbus.
He gave fans a glimpse of just how talented he is on the offensive end at the McDonald’s All-American Game, which will be critical for the Buckeyes.
The Scarlet and Gray struggled from behind the three-point line all year and will be even more hard-pressed to find the basket next season without LaQuinton Ross on the roster.
Russell will be a critical part of any Big Ten title hopes the Buckeyes have, but if he plays like he did in Wednesday’s contest, those goals may not be too ambitious.
Follow me on Twitter: