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Diskusia: Re-watchable Russell How the human GIF evolved into Ohio State's leading man

12.2.2015 07:48

Sorry, I’m ahead of myself here. Let’s rewind a bit on Russell. When he arrived at Ohio State, Russell didn’t necessarily come in as one of the heralded freshmen for the season. Some buzz, but not real hype. He succeeded early this season, scoring in bunches, though he looked a bit jittery at times. Losses against Louisville, North Carolina and Iowa where Russell shot 30 percent or below cracked the sheen.

More and more though, as the season has progressed, Russell continues to shed his frosh tendencies. Very quickly, Russell has asserted himself as Ohio State’s ‘guy,’ and accepting greater responsibilities running the offense. Russell and senior Shannon Scott share touches, both bringing the ball up the court routinely, but it’s Russell who fuels the Buckeyes' offense.

He acts as a combo guard, mostly, switching into the point guard role depending on what the defense gives him. He has an uncanny basketball IQ for his age, able to see where and how to attack the defense on a given play. Because he has the vision to create for others, the driving ability to score if it’s there and a knockdown 3-point shot (he’s shooting 44.5 percent for the season), placing the ball in Russell’s hands is generally a good idea. He's averaging 19.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, reinforcing the notioin that he can do it all. Rising to the top of NBA draft boards because of his quick-release jump shot and stabilized, smart play, Russell has also surged into the player of the year discussion.

He's battling with Jerian Grant for the nation’s best guard title, but their basketball mentalities couldn’t be more different: Grant looks like he takes what he wants on the court while Russell comes off as more a tactician, taking what’s there.

But it’s pretty clear that Russell sees what’s on the court differently than nearly everyone else playing. He sees what will be instead of what is. How else to explain a pass like this?

D'Angelo Russell the basketball player doubles as content creator for sports blogs and websites alike, which should explain where we're at with him. He produces these highly re-watchable plays that you know will become a GIF to be published and promoted on social media. Even if you saw it live, his plays beg multiple viewings -- peering closer and closer each time, attempting to distill at some point how did he do that? Generally, it never becomes any clearer and transforms into a throwing of hands and marveling at the dude.

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