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    LouLife

    Photo courtesy Ohio State University Men's Basketball Facebook Page
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    D’Angelo Russell has a chance to put his name alongside Louisville basketball legends Darrell Griffith, Wes Unseld and Charlie Tyra on Thursday night.

    That’s when the 6-foot-5 guard and Louisville native is expected to be a top four pick in the NBA Draft.

    If he does make the cut, he’ll join an exclusive club that includes Louisvillians Griffith, Unseld and Tyra, all three of whom were No. 2 overall draft picks (Griffith by the Utah Jazz in 1980, Unseld by the Baltimore Bullets in ‘68, Tyra by the Detroit Pistons in '57) as the only top-five selections from the River City. (Of course, you probably know that former University of Louisville star Pervis Ellison, who is originally from Savannah, Ga., was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1989 NBA Draft).

    Whether he's a top four pick or not, Russell will likely be the highest Louisville native taken since Rajon Rondo was taken 21st overall in first round of the 2006 draft and the first one selected in the lottery since Derek Anderson was taken 13th in 1997.

    Russell, who played his freshman year at Central High School before transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida, is coming off a fabulous freshman seasons at Ohio State. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and five assists per game for the Buckeyes, showcasing his deft passing, dribbling and shooting skills (see video below). New York Knicks President Phil Jackson was among those impressed by Russell. After seeing Russell in action during a home game in Columbus, Ohio, Jackson told Cleveland.com that he was a “great looking kid, (a) great prospect.” Jackson was fined for his comments because the NBA forbids league officials from making public comments on college underclassmen.

    The Knicks have the No. 4 pick in the draft and they, by most accounts, are hoping that Russell falls to them. Some have said Russell, who has been compared to Houston Rockets star James Harden (and not just because both of them are left-handed), is the top player in this year’s draft class, and he agrees.

    “I feel like I’m the best player in the draft,” he said recently.

    Last week Russell reportedly worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 1 pick. However, the T-Wolves are expected to take either Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke’s Jahlil Okafor for the top choice. Whichever one doesn’t go No. 1 is expected to go No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers (although the Lakers have been reportedly trying to trade for former UK big man DeMarcus Cousins. If that happens, and L.A. is able to keep the second pick, Russell could easily find himself playing alongside Kobe Bryant next season).

    The third pick, which is owned by the Philadelphia 76ers, will likely be a turning point for the draft as well as Russell. Several mock drafts have the 76ers selecting Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-0 power forward from Latvia whom many compare to Dirk Nowitzki. Philadelphia, which went 18-64 last season, desperately needs a point guard (or any player who can score) but the 76ers haven’t exactly been conventional with many of their recent draft picks, so we won’t know for sure until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces their selection around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.

    Until then we can only speculate where Russell will go, but at this point it’s pretty safe to assume the Louisville native will be a top four pick.

    Photo courtesy Ohio State University Men's Basketball Facebook Page.

     

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