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Former Ohio State stars D’Angelo Russell, Evan Turner traded to Minnesota Timberwolves

Just a few hours before the NBA trade deadline, D’Angelo Russell was traded by the Golden State Warriors to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins.

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Ohio State v VCU Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Minneapolis is a popular spot for former Ohio State Buckeyes currently in the NBA. Yesterday Keita Bates-Diop was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Denver Nuggets, but in the same deal Evan Turner was moved to Minnesota from the Atlanta Hawks. Now another former Buckeye is headed to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

D’Angelo Russell will be playing for his third team in less than a year now that he has been traded to the Timberwolves. Russell was sent to Golden State from Brooklyn in a sign-and-trade deal that featured Kevin Durant. Russell’s short stint in the Bay Area was one to forget for the most part, as not only has Russell missed 19 games due to injury, but season-ending injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have really hurt the Warriors, who are just 12-40 this year.

Even with everything that has gone wrong for the Warriors this year, Russell is still averaging a career-high 23.6 points per game. The situation in Minnesota isn’t much better, as the Timberwolves are 15-35, and have lost 13 straight games. Even with their struggles, the Timberwolves are hoping Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns can be the building blocks for future success in the Twin Cities.

With the trade of Russell, three of the four Buckeyes in the NBA have been traded over the past two days. The only former Buckeye who hasn’t changed teams is guard Mike Conley, who plays for the Utah Jazz. With Utah in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference, Utah wasn’t trying to move Conley before this afternoon’s trade deadline, since Conley gives the Jazz veteran leadership at guard.

“You just have to look at the bigger picture. If you want to win, you’ll do whatever it takes to win. We have threats all across the field. Of course, you want to see 15 ball a game, but realistically it’s not going to happen at any level at any school. That’s not in my mind. However many balls I have, I just have to take the opportunity and just take advantage of that.”

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba via Stephen Means,

There will be plenty of opportunities for underclassmen to make a name for themselves at wide receiver in 2020. Wide receivers K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor all have graduated, leaving junior Chris Olave and sophomore Garrett Wilson as the most experienced returning wide receivers. One receiver who could make an instant impact at receiver for Ohio State is early enrollee Jaxson Smith-Njigba.

A spot where the Ohio State coaching staff is envisioning Smith-Njigba seeing action early on is at H-back. Last year K.J. Hill was the only Buckeye to see time at H-back after C.J. Saunders was lost for the season due to injury. Smith-Njigba saw what Hill was able to do at H-back for Ohio State last year and could see himself having similar success as Ohio State’s career receptions leader.

H-back has been a heavily targeted position, with those suiting up at the position leading Ohio State in catches the past four years. Curtis Samuel started the trend of leading the Buckeyes in receptions at H-back in 2016. In 2017 and 2019 Hill led the Buckeyes in catches, while Parris Campbell recorded a team-high in receptions in 2018. Smith-Njigba showed he is able to handle a heavy workload in high school, catching 109 passes as a senior.

While Smith-Njigba knows he won’t see as many catches in a season at Ohio State, he is ready to make the most of his opportunties in Columbus. The freshman figures to be in the mix to start at H-back, with Mookie Cooper, Jaelen Gill, and possibly C.J. Saunders also looking to stake their claim to the job. Even if Smith-Njigba doesn’t win the job at H-back, expect the Ohio State coaching staff to find a way to get the talented receiver on the field in other spots.

“Our coaches here have done a great job of not making it a competition yet. But it is a competition. Me and Jack talk every day about the things we do. We compete against each other in the mat drills. It’s one of those things you get used to.”

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud via Griffin Strom, The Lantern

There is no question who is starting at quarterback for Ohio State in 2020. Justin Fields has a lock on the job after a stellar 2019 season. The backup quarterback position also looks to already be spoken for, as Gunnar Hoak will be in his second year in Ryan Day’s system, which gives him a leg up over the rest of the competition at quarterback.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any interesting battle shaping up at quarterback for the Buckeyes, even if it won’t have major implications in 2020. Freshmen quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller are both already in Columbus as early enrollees, and are trying to soak up as much as they can to try and stake their claim to the quarterback position for when Justin Fields leaves Ohio State.

Miller committed to Ohio State in July 2018, and for a long time was looked at as Ohio State’s quarterback of the future. The importance of Miller’s commitment became even greater when Matthew Baldwin transferred to TCU following the 2019 Spring Game. The transfer of Baldwin also forced Ohio State to look at bringing in another quarterback to help their depth at quarterback.

Ohio State targeted Stroud and offered the quarterback a scholarship in October after talking with Miller about it. While most quarterbacks might be looking at other options when hearing a school was bringing in another quarterback to compete with them, Miller welcomed the addition of Stroud. The two have already begun developing a relationship now that they are in Columbus together, even though they know down the line they’ll be competing against each other for the starting spot. The growth of the transfer portal makes it likely they both won’t end their career in Columbus, but it will be fun to see both quarterbacks grow while they are at Ohio State.