Duane Washington Jr. not drafted, but signs with Indiana

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

After leaving Ohio State following his third year of college basketball, Duane Washington Jr. was not selected during the 2021 NBA draft.

But almost immediately after the conclusion of the draft, Washington signed a two-way deal with the Indianapolis Pacers.

By signing a two-way deal, a player will split time between an NBA team and its G League affiliate and be on an NBA team's active list for no more than 50 games. This year, two-way players will earn a flat salary equal to half of the minimum player salary for a player with zero years of service. That amounts to $462,629.

So while the league's official language doesn't mandate it, Washington will spend time in the NBA this season.

Washington is the first Buckeyes player recruited and signed out of high school by Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann to sign an NBA contract. He would have been the second Ohio State player coached by Holtmann to be drafted, joining Keita Bates-Diop, who was picked in the second round by Minnesota with the 48th overall pick in 2018. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Washington transferred to Chatsworth (California) Sierra Canyon for his senior season.

Duane Washington Jr. averaged a team-best 16.4 points for Ohio State last season.

When he committed to the Buckeyes, he was ranked No. 291 nationally according to 247Sports.com at the time. He finished No. 169 in the 2018 recruiting rankings.

He improved in every significant statistical category during his three years with the Buckeyes, topping out by averaging a team-best 16.4 points and 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 41.0% from the floor and 37.4% from three. He was named third-team all-Big Ten for the 2020-21 season.

“Duane, I’m excited about what this week could potentially be for him,” Holtmann said Tuesday. “The young man was a good player coming out of high school. Ryan Pedon did a great job recruiting him. He was a three-star, but he just kept getting better.”

Washington proved to be a lightning rod for Ohio State fans, a player who loved to take the big shot but also would do just enough to drive his coaches crazy.

Ohio State basketball:'Till death do them part, Chris Holtmann and Duane Washington's bond key

He entered the week a longshot to be drafted, which was an improvement from his status upon entering the draft process after his junior season ended at Ohio State. Washington secured an invitation to the NBA’s G-League combine, where he scored 31 points in two televised games and impressed scouts with his leadership capabilities and overall play. That enabled him to earn a spot in the NBA’s full scouting combine, and from there he officially withdrew from college to start his professional career June 29.

Washington appeared on Sports Illustrated’s mock draft, which had him going No. 56 overall to the Hornets. No other major mock draft included the guard.

Washington's uncle, Derek Fisher, and his father, Duane Washington Sr., both played in the NBA. Through Fisher, he was close with the late Kobe Bryant, playing an emotional game at Northwestern the day the Lakers star passed away.

Of the 25 college players taken in the first round, just one was from the Big Ten. Michigan's Franz Wagner was taken No. 8 overall by the Orlando Magic. 

In the second round, Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu went No. 38 overall to Chicago to start a mini run on Big Ten players. Iowa's Joe Wieskamp went three spots later to San Antonio, and he was immediately followed at pick No. 42 when Detroit took Michigan's Isaiah Livers.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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