COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State freshman guard Malaki Branham announced Wednesday he will hire an agent and stay in the NBA Draft.
You can watch the press conference in the video player above.
The latest mock draft from CBS Sports has Branham going 14th overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As a true freshman, Branham played in 32 games averaging 13.7 points while shooting an impressive 49.8% from the field. He struggled early in the season but averaged 17 points a game during a 22-game stretch from Jan. 2 through the end of the season.
“It wasn’t a win lose situation if I go to the league or if I come back,” Branham said. “Wanting to pursue my dreams and go to the NBA felt like it was just the best opportunity for me.”
The Columbus native will become the first freshman from Ohio State drafted in the first round since D’Angelo Russell who was picked 2nd overall by the Lakers in 2015. He’s also the first one and done player under OSU coach Chris Holtmann.
“When you combine his physical tools with who he is as a person and as a player, I think you have a really, really special NBA player,” Holtmann said.
Prior to that, Ohio State had a string of five freshman drafted in the first round from 2007-09, including Greg Oden and Mike Conley.
Branham grew up in Akron and played for St. Vincent-St. Mary, the same high school made famous by LeBron James. Branham led the Fighting Irish to the 2021 Division II state championship and was named Mr. Basketball in Ohio for the 2020-21 season.
Meanwhile, former Buckeye teammate E.J. Liddell is projected to be picked 23rd overall by the Brooklyn Nets.