Duane Washington Jr. continuing NBA Draft process, ending Buckeyes career

Duane Washington Jr. continuing NBA Draft process, ending Buckeyes career

Pete Nakos4 months
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Duane Washington by Birm-Lettermen Row
Duane Washington Jr. is returning to Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

COLUMBUS – Duane Washington Jr. has made his decision — he is leaving Ohio State.

Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday that Washington is keeping his name from the NBA Draft, ending his career with the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound guard was the Buckeyes leading scorer this past season.

He entered his name into the NBA Draft in early April, leaving the option to return to Ohio State open by not signing with an agent. But as Washington went through draft workouts and the NBA combine, he received enough feedback to go the professional route.

The third-team All-Big Ten selection dropped a record 32 points in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, where Ohio State lost to Illinois in overtime. The Buckeyes were upset in the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts in the Round of 64. They constantly struggled to close out games late in the season. The fault isn’t all on Washington, but his shot selection was questionable late in the season, most notably in the Big Dance when he finished 7-of-21 shooting from the field.

Chris Holtmann never pushed for Washington to make a fast decision. With the NBA Draft withdrawal date set for July 7, Holtmann allowed both he and teammate E.J. Liddell to make a smart, educated decision. Washington will head to the pro ranks, while Liddell returns and attempts to boost his draft stock.

Duane Washington-Ohio State-Ohio State basketball-Buckeyes

Duane Washington Jr. is keeping his name in NBA Draft waters. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

“I hope people realize he’s a heck of a kid and a heck of a player,” Holtmann said during the Big Ten Tournament. “It’s been well-documented how much I love him and sometimes our relationship has its moments. I haven’t really looked at it like that. I think Duane understands, he’s really focused in the moment. We’re going to have a huge challenge. We’re going to have a huge challenge in our opening NCAA tournament game. I think that’s all his focus right now. I think if he gets off of anything else other than that, it can be really a dangerous place to go for a kid.

“But from a coach’s perspective, listen, I hope he continues to perform at a high level because I want him to get everything he’s earned.”

While Washington explored his professional future, Holtmann has continued to build the Buckeyes’ roster. He added Penn State guard Jamari Wheeler and Indiana center Joey Brunk, giving Ohio State some needed depth and proven role players. This years’ team will look different, especially with the addition of Ohio’s Mr. Basketball, Malaki Branham, contributing minutes.

The additions will have to do.

Duane Washington is officially taking the next step in the NBA Draft process, marking the end of his Ohio State career.