Despite phenomenal performances in the G League Elite Camp and the NBA Combine, Ohio State’s Duane Washington was not drafted during Thursday night’s NBA Draft. After once sitting outside of most media outlets’ top-100 players, Washington’s performance at the pre-draft activities boosted his draft stock to a point where he was included in a few mock drafts by major media outlets.
Ohio State's Duane Washington going up strong in transition at the NBA Combine yesterday with Isaiah Todd trailing. pic.twitter.com/KIfLekeh2A— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 24, 2021
Alas, Ohio State’s resident Wolverine killer was not selected, but his NBA journey is still just beginning. The Pacers reached out and signed Washington Jr. as an undrafted free agent to a two-way contract. He will have to earn his spot on the Pacers, likely by playing in the NBA Summer League and G League before earning an opportunity with the big club.
Ohio State's Duane Washington has agreed to a two-way deal with the Indiana Pacers, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
Another recent Buckeye, Jae’Sean Tate, has found success in the NBA after going undrafted in 2018. Tate signed an NBA Summer League contract with the Milwaukee Bucks that summer before playing professionally in Belgium and Australia for two seasons. He then signed with the Houston Rockets this past November, and was a fixture in the Rockets’ starting lineup all season long.
Keita Bates-Diop was drafted with the 48th overall pick in 2018, but spent a considerable amount of time playing in the NBA G-League during his first two professional seasons. He is now making over $440,000 per year with the San Antonio Spurs, coming off their bench.
Washington Jr. averaged 11.4 points per game over three years in Columbus, including a team-leading 16.4 points per game last season, which was also top-10 in the Big Ten. He’ll have no trouble scoring in the NBA, as Washington has already shown the ability to shoot the long ball, drive to the basket, and connect on those 10-12 foot mid-range shots. He was also an 80% free throw shooter in college.
Washington Jr.’s problems will likely lie on the defensive end, which was an area that he struggled with at times in college. With the NBA becoming more and more fluid in terms of set positions, it may be difficult for the 6-foot-3 Washington to defend some of the larger guards in the league, as well as wings who can handle the ball.
Credit to Washington Jr. for sticking to his guns and betting on himself throughout the entire process. He now finds himself employed by an NBA franchise, and will have every opportunity to carve out a long, successful career.
Good luck and congratulations, Duane. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish at the next level!