"He's just one of those guys where the game comes very easy to him. Sees things. One of the best passers we have seen in college basketball in a long, long time. There are plays where he sees two passes ahead. He makes hockey passes."
With the Golden State Warriors clinching the NBA title on Tuesday night, all of the focus in the NBA can now shift to next Thursday's NBA Draft. One player who will hear his name called early next week is D'Angelo Russell. While it still remains to be seen where Russell will end up being drafted, the reviews from many on the potential of the guard have been glowing. Russillo talked to three sources who work in personnel for NBA teams to get their takes on the consensus top-three picks in the draft, and also added his own observations after seeing what all three players have to offer on the basketball court.
It sounds like Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will be taken before Russell next week, but the former Buckeye very well could be the best backcourt player in this year's draft. Not only do scouts marvel over Russell's ability to not only score and distribute, but many love the size he has for a guard. Some are worried Russell might be a little bit lean, but that's something that can be fixed by getting into the weight room more to add some muscle to his frame. There are also some questions with his defense, but with the outstanding skills Russell possesses on offense, those questions won't be big enough to see his draft stock fall very much. What stood out most about Russell is the kind of year he had on a team that wasn't very good aside from him. Had the Buckeyes not had Russell it would've been hard to see them make the NCAA Tournament. Teams knew they could give added attention to stopping Russell but they still had a hard time doing so. It should be interesting to see how Russell's game translates to the pros, where he should have a little more of a supporting cast around him.
"Marshall can do just about anything the Buckeyes need, which means it's never safe to look away when he's on the field."
Trying to choose Ohio State's most exciting player heading into this year has to be a chore with all the talent the Buckeyes have to offer on the offensive side of the football, but ESPN's Austin Ward has an interesting choice on who that could be for Urban Meyer's team. Quarterback Braxton Miller has the ability to scramble and break a play at anytime, while Cardale Jones has the arm to throw the football 70+ yards. Ohio State fans saw what Ezekiel Elliott did with giant performances in the three most important games of the Buckeye title run, and behind Elliott sits a possible gamebreaker in sophomore Curtis Samuel. Coming out of high school many services had Dontre' Wilson pegged as a De'Anthony Thomas clone with his speed, and even though he hasn't quite lived up to expectations, defenses can't afford to sleep on Wilson.
But Ward's list wasn't topped by any of those players, instead redshirt sophomore Jalin Marshall was tabbed as the most exciting Buckeye because of his versatility. Following Wilson's injury in the Michigan State game, Marshall saw his role expand in the offense, and he made the most of it. The breakout game for Marshall came against Indiana, where in a 15-minute span beginning late in the third quarter, Marshall scored four touchdowns to help Ohio State secure the victory. The ways Marshall can beat teams are seemingly countless. Not only is Marshall a threat rushing and receiving, but since he was a high school quarterback he has the ability to throw the ball if needed. Add in the explosiveness Marshall has as a kick returner and it'll be interesting to see just how many ways he can score a touchdown this fall.
"A year ago, we gave Virginia Tech an 11 percent chance to beat the Buckeyes, the second-best on that 2014 schedule. And the Hokies made it happen. Now? We take a small step back in Virginia Tech's hope because so much has changed in a year."
Heading into last year's game against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes found themselves as double-digit favorites and many around the country weren't giving the Hokies much of a chance to upset Ohio State, even with J.T. Barrett only making his second start for the Buckeyes due to the shoulder injury of Braxton Miller. With a relentless pass rush from their defense, the Hokies were able to stun the Buckeyes under the lights at Ohio Stadium. Will lightning strike twice when Ohio State heads to Blacksburg to open the defense of their national championship at Lane Stadium on Labor Day night? It wouldn't be wise to bet on it.
While Virginia Tech was able to confuse the young offensive line of the Buckeyes with their "bear" front last year, Ohio State and their much improved line should be ready for any of the tricks Bud Foster and company might have up their sleeves this year. It is much more likely for Ohio State to be the team producing the tremendous backfield pressure this year with a line that includes Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington going up a Hokie offensive line that is forced to replace three starters. Pretty much the rest of the Virginia Tech offense returns, but Ohio State's defense can say the same thing, which should make it tougher for the Hokies to put up the point total that they did last year.
Trying to stop the Ohio State offense will be considerably tougher for the Hokies this year, with instead of just having a quarterback making his second career start, the Buckeyes have a stable of three quarterbacks, all of which could start for any team in the country. Not only will Ohio State's quarterbacks be healthier, but also running back Ezekiel Elliott should be at full strength, unlike last year when he was still dealing with a wrist injury he suffered during the offseason. Elliott only carried the ball eight times for 32 yards against the Hokies last year, so Virginia Tech didn't quite get the Elliott who ran through Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon at the end of the year. Is it a given that the Buckeyes will win the game? No. But optimism should definitely be very high heading into this game, especially with the revenge factor Ohio State will most likely have on their mind.
After announcing a couple weeks ago that Cleveland Browns would be hold a scrimmage in early August at Ohio Stadium, today information came out on how those interested in attending the August 7th event could acquire tickets to the event. On Monday morning at 10 AM, tickets will be made available at the official website of the Browns.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Looking for something to do this weekend in Columbus? The options are plentiful.
- Hopefully the Blue Jackets can give Columbus a reason to have a victory parade like this in the near future.
- Planning on attending the Dublin Independence Day fireworks display? Be aware of the new admission policy.
- Clint Dempsey's Tuesday night tantrum could see him suspended from next month's Gold Cup.
- Apartments and condos are planned for the top of LeVeque Tower, with completion scheduled for next year.