We are down to two players left in the Land-Grant Holy Land Ohio State men’s basketball Player Preview series; which means that we are getting closer to basketball season. Left on the plate we have Cedric Russell and E.J. Liddell. As a group, we have talked about Russell a lot in the three weeks since he joined the Buckeye family so I won’t take up too much time here. Next week we will talk about Liddell to wrap up the series.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
WHAT HE HAS DONE: Cedric Russell is a new name for Ohio State fans and even though he will only be a Buckeye for a short time, you can bet that he will be a name to know. Russell is a senior transfer from Louisiana where he was a prolific scorer for the Rajin’ Cajuns.
Russell came into Louisiana in 2017 as the No. 341 recruit in the country and the No. 4 player in the state of Louisiana. Russell came from Peabody Magnet High School in Alexandria, La.
During his four seasons at Louisiana, he got better each season on both sides of the ball. His freshman season, he played in 34 games but started in only one. He averaged 5.7 points per game and shot 43% from three-point range. His sophomore season, he bumped his scoring average up to 9.7 ppg, playing in 32 games and starting in 30.
His junior season, he doubled his rebounding average up to 3.7 per game, and got his scoring average up to 14.4. His senior season, he went off for 17.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest, playing in 26 games and starting in 25. He shot 40% from three-point range while averaging 7.3 attempts per game from deep.
Russell cemented himself as one of the best shooters in the nation and was named to the First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference team in 2021. He also started the season with a 26-point performance against eventual national champions Baylor. He was 10-for-17 against the elite Baylor Bear defense.
Basically, Russell can score.
WHAT’S NEXT: For Russell, the only real question is if can he transition the elite scoring and shooting from the Sun Belt to the grind that is the Big Ten. Ohio State has a tough non-conference schedule next season, plus the B1G schedule they have as well, and that can wear on a guy that has never had to deal with that kind of schedule, both in terms of competition and physicality.
As I mentioned above though, he did score an efficient 26 against Baylor last season, so he has proven that he can score against the best of defenses.
PROJECTED ROLE: Ohio State was not looking to go get a two-guard in the transfer portal, until Duane Washington Jr. announced that he was keeping his name in the NBA Draft. Then, Chris Holtmann and his staff realized that they needed to get a veteran scorer to fill the gap, and Russell was the guy to plug that hole.
Russell should be the starter at SG coming into the season unless the Buckeyes elect to go with Jimmy Sotos or Meechie Johnson to start the season since they have been with the team and are more known entities, or Malaki Branham is just too good to keep off the floor. However, just from a talent and experience standpoint, it should be Russell from the get go and no matter what, he will play starter minutes.
The only complicating factor could be that Russell wasn’t able to join the Buckeyes immediately following his transfer, because he was wrapping up his final classes before graduation at Louisiana.
However, Russell is undoubtedly a prolific scorer and will challenge E.J. Liddell for the team’s scoring title this season. In fact, I recently made a bold prediction that Russell will average 20 or more points for the Buckeyes this season.
Now, even if that doesn’t happen, Russell should absolutely come in and play something similar to the role that Washington did in 2020-21. He won’t get a bunch of rebounds or assists — and his defense is average at best — but Russell can score the ball with the best of them and that is something that the Buckeyes need following the loss of Washington.
Up next in the LGHL player preview series: E.J. Liddell