Ohio State will open its 2019-20 men's basketball season by hosting Cincinnati for the first time in nearly 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet Nov. 6 in Value City Arena, marking only the 12th time the in-state programs have met and the second time in as many years that they’ve played each other within state lines after having not done so since 1921. In preparation for the start of the season, The Dispatch is counting down with power rankings for each member of the Ohio State roster.
These rankings are an educated guess at which players will have the most significant on-court impact during the course of the season.
No. 8: Duane Washington Jr.
Height/weight: 6 feet 3 / 190 pounds
Jersey number: 4
Background: Raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Washington headed out West for his senior season of high school and played for Chatsworth (California) Sierra Canyon, where he averaged 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game as his team won the California Open Division state championship. Washington was a three-star recruit and the No. 167 national prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
2018-19 stats: Washington played in all 35 games as a freshman, including two starts. He averaged 7.0 points, good for sixth-best on the team, and 2.5 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game. Washington shot 30.6 percent from three-point range (41 for 134) but was only 26.2 percent (22 for 84) in Big Ten play.
Need to know: At Sierra Canyon, Washington played on a team that included Scottie Pippen Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. While there, he lived with an uncle, 18-year NBA veteran Derek Fisher. He earned the nickname “The Mayor.” He’s proven to be a go-to host for the Ohio State coaching staff when hosting recruits on official visits.
2018-19 recap: In just his second collegiate game, Washington put his name into the Ohio State record books by hitting six three-pointers while going off for what would be a season-high 20 points in a win against Purdue Fort Wayne. His six threes tied him with D’Angelo Russell for the most in a game by a freshman in Ohio State history, and it helped power him to a 10-for-15 start from three-point range through his first three games. Then things got tougher, defenses adjusted and Washington’s numbers dipped. He shot 38.0 percent from deep in nonconference play and only 26.2 percent in Big Ten games. Of the 10 players to see significant action, his plus-26 plus-minus rating for the season was the third-lowest.
2019-20 outlook: The path for a greater role lies in efficiency for Washington. He took 38 more threes than classmate Luther Muhammad last season and made only five more than his fellow guard, even as Muhammad suffered through a significant late-season slump. At the team’s media day this year, Washington talked about how players at this level can’t afford to miss open shots and said he’d been working on his accuracy. That carries over to inside the line, too, where a more-consistent Washington would make it harder for teams to run him off the line. Facing increased backcourt competition with the additions of CJ Walker and D.J. Carton, Washington will have to compete to see his role grow this season.
“Me and coach (Jake) Diebler, we’ve been doing a great job in workouts, nitpicking my game and understanding what I need to get better at,” he said at media day. “I’ve got in the gym myself a lot, working on consistently knocking down the jumper, consistently making floaters, consistently making the right pass, the right play, the right read. Just consistency all around is what we’ve been working on.”
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