When Ohio State's incoming freshman basketball players began taking summer courses on Monday, the most highly touted member of the class did not join the rest of the quartet.
Guard D'Angelo Russell, a McDonald's All-American expected to contend for a starting job as a freshman, has not received clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center, the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
The issue is Russell's standardized test scores and GPA in his high school core classes do not combine for a high enough mark on the NCAA's sliding scale to make him eligible to play as a freshman. Rusell took his standardized test earlier this month in hopes of raising his core but the eligibility center is still awaiting that result, according to the Dispatch.
Any scenario in which Russell cannot play next season is a dire one for Ohio State because the Buckeyes desperately need the perimeter scoring jolt the 6-foot-4 wing can provide. Ohio State loses Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross from a team that endured lengthy scoring droughts to begin with this past season.
Russell, Rivals.com's No. 18 recruit in the class of 2014, is a smooth lefty with deep range but enough skill and quickness off the dribble to keep defenders from crowding him out behind the 3-point arc. The Louisville native chose Ohio State over the likes of his hometown Cardinals, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Florida.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta told the Dispatch he's hopeful to have Russell in Columbus soon, but really it's out of his hands now.
Either Russell comes through on his standardized test, or the Buckeyes may lack the scoring punch to ascend in the Big Ten pecking order next season.
For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.
- - - - - - -