"This was a hard decision because I knew I could come back and play with my teammates who I love, and to be coached by coach Thad Matta again would have been awesome, but at the same time I wanted to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA," Russell told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I know what I am capable of and the sky's the limit with effort. I know I have a lot to work on."
Russell is a 6-foot-5 combo guard who excels both as a playmaker and as a scoring threat. He produced 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as a freshman for the Buckeyes.
Just one year after entering college basketball as the No. 13 overall player in the ESPN 100, Russell is bound for the pros.
"You never know when this opportunity comes," he told ESPN.com. "I believe I am ready because my approach was to unpack my bags, get committed to winning and listening to the coaches -- as opposed to coming in and saying 'I am a pro' and trying to leave. I wasn't trying to get in and out at Ohio State."
Russell is one of the more versatile and dangerous guards in the nation. According to one NBA GM, his draft stock rose during the season, and he could land in the lottery.
"When we went to see him in the fall we thought he was a good player," the GM said. "When we went to the nonconference games, we thought he was very good and a first-round pick. When we went back to Big Ten games there was no doubt he was a high lottery pick."
Russell said he will miss Ohio State and expressed gratitude for his time in Columbus.
"It's a great place, the fan base is crazy for basketball ... hopefully it will open doors down the road after basketball," he said. "The staff did a great job of challenging me from the X's and O's [standpoint], strengthening my body, and academically I got named as one of two players as a scholar-athlete on our team."