Duane Washington Jr. has decided to remain in the 2021 NBA Draft and will not return to Ohio State for senior season per @GoodmanHoops. He finishes his career with 1,073 career points, one of 60 players to score at least 1,000 points at Ohio State. https://t.co/KQLfU1aCAf— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) June 29, 2021
After a few weeks of seeing Duane Washington Jr.’s NBA Draft stock trending upward, the inevitable happened and the Ohio State guard decided to keep his name in the 2021 NBA Draft. Now the next question for Washington is what happens next in his basketball career?
Trying to predict how Washington’s professional career will pan out is an impossible task since over the last two decades the end result of the basketball careers of Buckeye basketball players has been all over the map. Just look at Jae’Sean Tate, who went undrafted, spent a few years bouncing around the globe before finally reaching the NBA and becoming NBA All-Rookie First Team this year.
The goal of every basketball player is to be selected in the NBA Draft. Washington is hoping to become the 15th Ohio State basketball player to be drafted since 2000. The previous 14 have had varying results, with some never stepping foot on the floor in an NBA game, where others played in the league for at least 10 years.
After earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors in 2018, Keita Bates-Diop was drafted in the 2nd round with the 48th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bates-Diop played 67 total games and started three games before being traded in a four-team trade to Denver during his second season. The forward appeared in seven games for the Nuggets before being released in the offseason. A week following his release, Bates-Diop signed with the San Antonio Spurs and played in 30 games this year. Bates-Diop is averaging 5.0 points per game and 2.5 rebounds game during his NBA career.
Even though Russell spent just one season in Columbus, the guard from Louisville was one of the most exciting players in program history. Following a season that saw earn All-American honors, Russell was selected with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Russell has established himself as a tremendous scorer in the NBA, there have been a couple issues that have kept him from taking the leap to the next tier of NBA greatness. Injuries have hampered Russell’s career, and he also hasn’t spent more than two seasons with one team.
After a tough start to his career in Los Angeles, Russell found his footing in the league in Brooklyn, capped off by being named to the All-Star team in the 2018-19 season. Unfortunately, Russell couldn’t build off that season, as the Nets shipped Russell to Golden State in the Kevin Durant trade.
Russell is now playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and averaged 17.6 points per game in 42 games this year. With new ownership in place, as well as some young talent around him, it’ll be interesting to see if Russell can stay healthy and once again establish himself as a dominant scorer.
Even though Deshaun Thomas was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 58th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the forward has yet to appear in an NBA game. That doesn’t mean Thomas hasn’t found success on the hardwood. Thomas has played in France, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Greece, and most recently played for Alvark Tokyo.
In a perfect world, we would have gotten to see what Jared Sullinger could have done in the NBA without injuries. Back injuries in college hurt Sullinger’s stock, causing him to fall to the 21st pick in the 2012 NBA Draft where the Boston Celtics selected him. Sullinger was able to gain some momentum in his second and third seasons in the league before foot injuries in 2015 with the Celtics, and 2016 with Toronto essentially ended his NBA career.
In 269 career games, Sullinger averaged 10.8 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. Sullinger registered 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game with Boston in 2014, becoming the first Celtics player to hit those numbers since Kevin Garnett in 2007. Sullinger did get back on the court in China for the 2017-18 season, and played this year in Korea.
The sniper from Upper Sandusky has had a career path that has mirrored that of Deshaun Thomas. Diebler was selected late in the second round by the Portland Trailblazers, but has never appeared in an NBA game. Instead, Diebler has spend his career over in Europe, playing for teams in Turkey and Israel.
After being named National College Player of the Year in 2010, Turner was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Turner never really quite lived up to the expectations that come with being selected that high, but he did play for a decade in the league, and his career earnings are around $100 million. Even though his playing career is over, Turner spent the 2020-21 season as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.
Turner finished his career averaging 9.7 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, and 3.5 assists per game in 705 games. The forward played for five different teams during his career and was able to record four triple-doubles.
It’s easy to forget that Mullens played at Ohio State, since he only spent one year in Columbus, and much of that time saw him coming off the bench for the Buckeyes. Still, Mullens impressed scouts enough to be selected with the 24th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks.
Mullens played 189 games in the NBA for four different teams. His best season came in 2012-13, when he averaged 10.6 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game with the Charlotte Hornets. Mullens would only spend one more year in the NBA, splitting time with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, Mullens has been traveling the globe, playing basketball in numerous countries.
Much like Mullens, Kosta Koufos spent just one year at Ohio State. The big man from Canton was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 23rd pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Koufos struggled to find his place in Utah, and spent a short stint in Minnesota before finding some comfort with the Denver Nuggets.
The best season of Koufos’ NBA career came in 2012-13, when he started 81 games and averaged 8.0 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Koufos, he wasn’t able to build on that season as he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason.
Koufos didn’t have spectacular numbers but he was a guy that was reliable, mostly off the bench. Following his time in Memphis, Koufos did start 62 games for Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. After 11 seasons in the NBA, Koufos spent last year in Russia and this year he played for Olympiacos in Greece.
If only we could have seen what Greg Oden’s career would have been like if his body didn’t betray him. The center was taken first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft after leading Ohio State to the NCAA Championship Game in his only season in Columbus. Portland had to wait a year to see Oden on the floor, as knee surgery caused him to miss the 2007-08 season.
After a “rookie” season that saw Portland ease Oden back onto the floor, the big man looked like he was on the road to stardom in his second season playing for the Trailblazers. Oden was averaging 11.1 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, and 2.3 blocks per game in 21 games before a fractured left patella ended his season.
Oden would return to the court in the 2013-14 season with the Miami Heat, appearing in 23 games. Even though Oden wouldn’t make the impact that anyone was hoping for in the NBA, he did return to Ohio State to earn his degree and become a student manager while attending classes.
The best Buckeye to make it to the NBA over the last two decades has been Mike Conley. The point guard was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the fourth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, and has become put together a very strong NBA career. In 14 seasons, Conley has played in 886 games and is averaging 14.9 points per game and 5.7 assists per game.
About the only thing that is missing from Conley’s body of work is a trip to the NBA Finals. After spending most of his career in Memphis, Conley was traded to Utah prior to last season. This year saw Conley earn his first selection to the All-Star Game. The Jazz entered the playoffs as the Western Conference’s top seed, but were bounced in the second round by the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s not coincidence that Conley was injured for most of the series against the Clippers.
The third Buckeye to be selected in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft was Daequan Cook, who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 21st pick, and traded to the Miami Heat. The highlight of Cook’s NBA career came during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend, when he won the three-point shooting contest, ending Jason Kapono’s two-year winning streak.
Cook played in 328 NBA games, averaging 6.4 points per game. The Dayton product’s best year came during the 2009-10 season when he averaged 9.1 points per game for the Heat. Cook would also play for Oklahoma City, Houston, and Chicago before heading overseas.
After being drafted by the Miami Heat with the 49th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Ken Johnson appeared in just 16 games for Miami, averaging 2.0 points per game. Johnson can hang his hat on being the first pick of the NBA Developmental League Draft before traveling the world to make numerous stops overseas in different leagues.
Had it not been for Mike Conley, there’s not doubt that Michael Redd would have been considered the Ohio State basketball player with the best NBA career over the last two decades. Redd was selected 43rd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2000 NBA Draft, and he spent 11 seasons of his 12 years in the NBA with Milwaukee.
Not only was Redd named an All-Star in the 2003-04 season, the guard recorded six seasons of at least 20 points per game. Redd’s success wasn’t limited to the NBA, as he was a part of the 2008 United States basketball team that won gold in the Beijing Summer Olympics.
Redd held one of the most incredible records in NBA history when he hit eight three-pointers in a quarter against Houston in 2002. That record was broken by Klay Thompson in 2015, but it is still an amazing feat that he will always be able to look back on. There’s no question that Redd and Conley should be the models that future Buckeyes should be looking at when it comes to NBA success.
Later in the 2000 NBA Draft, Penn was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 57th pick. Penn would never see the floor in the NBA, instead opting for a career playing overseas. Even though Penn didn’t play in the NBA, he is getting the chance to coach in the league. The former Buckeye has been an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies since 2019.