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D'Angelo Russell struggles, draft prospect out of NCAA tournament

Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, who could be on Lakers' draft radar, struggles in NCAA tournament loss

Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, a possible top-five pick in June's NBA draft, was knocked out of the NCAA tournament on Saturday as the Ohio State Buckeyes (10th seed) fell to the Arizona Wildcats (2nd), 73-58.

Russell struggled against the Wildcats' aggressive defense, scoring nine points on three of 19 shooting.  The 6-foot-5 freshman did make a number of impressive passes, mostly in a competitive first half, but he and his team faded in the second.

Whether or not the difficult performance will hurt Russell's stock remains to be seen (presuming he declares for the draft, as expected).

Arizona's Stanley Johnson, a potential lottery pick, also had a poor shooting night with four points (missing 11 of 12 shot attempts).

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a defensive-minded small forward, tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting just three of 12 from the field.

Provided the Lakers successfully get through May's draft lottery, Russell may be available when the team is on the clock.

The Lakers traded their 2015 pick to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, which has since been conveyed by Phoenix to the Philadelphia 76ers. If the pick falls below five, the Lakers lose it in June to the Sixers.

In addition to their own two picks, the Lakers will receive the Houston Rockets' first-rounder, and potentially the Clippers' second (only if it's in the 51-55 range) -- both received over the summer in the Jeremy Lin trade.

Hollis-Jefferson may be in the range of the Houston pick.

Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein helped the Kentucky Wildcats (1st seed) get past the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Towns scored eight points with seven rebounds and three blocked shots.  He projects to be a top-two pick.

Cauley-Stein gave the Wildcats nine points with two rebounds and two blocks.  The athletic center could go in the top 10, or even top five in the draft.

Kentucky will draw the Maryland Terrapins (4th) on Thursday.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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