Duane Washington Jr. staying in NBA draft, won't return to Ohio State for senior season

Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. is keeping his name in the NBA draft and won't return to the Buckeyes for his senior season, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

Over the course of the offseason, there was growing buzz that Washington could ultimately decide to leave Ohio State. He boosted his stock the past couple of weeks, starring at the G League Elite Camp and earning an invite to the NBA draft combine. He generated positive reviews at the combine as well.

A 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Washington averaged 16.4 points and 2.9 assists last season, shooting 37.4% from 3-point range. He performed well down the stretch of the season, scoring 30 points in a late February loss to Michigan, and also going for 32 points in the Big Ten tournament championship game against Illinois.

Washington averaged 23.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in four Big Ten tournament games, shooting 44.4% from 3.

Washington is ranked No. 82 in ESPN's NBA rankings.

With Washington gone, Chris Holtmann will have to rely more heavily on either Justin Ahrens or Malaki Branham. Ahrens started 18 games last season and was the best 3-point shooter on the team, making 54 3s at a 42.5% clip, while Branham was ranked No. 32 in the ESPN 100 for 2021.

Ohio State was No. 5 in ESPN's latest Way-Too-Early Top 25, but Washington's departure will drop the Buckeyes out of the top 10. Potential All-American E.J. Liddell is yet to withdraw his name from the draft, but he's been viewed as more likely to return to Ohio State.