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Liddell and Branham are expected to be selected in the first round.


Ohio State looks poised to see multiple first-round NBA draft picks Thursday night for the fourth time in history.

Leaving guard Malachi Branham and go E. J. Liddell each predicted as a first-round pick, with Branham expected to pick 12 to 21 and Liddell generally later in the first round. Branham was invited to view the draft from the green room at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The draft will air on ABC and ESPN television starting at 8:00 pm ET.

OSU was last selected in the first round in 2007 when Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. as well as Dequan Cook went with picks #1, #4 and #21 respectively. The school also had several first rounds in 1947 (Jack Anderman was seventh and Paul Houston was eighth) and 1962 (Jerry Lucas was sixth and John Havlicek was ninth).

Working as a dynamic Ohio State duo, Branham and Liddell helped Ohio State set a 20-12 coach record. Chris Holtmann this last season. The Buckeyes finished fourth in the Big Ten and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The 6-5, 180-pound Branham came out of nowhere midseason to become Big Ten freshman of the year and jump onto the NBA board. A native of Columbus, Branham played at the high school prom in the famous Akron St. Vincent St. Mary. He led the Irish to a state championship and also won Ohio’s Mr. Basketball honors in his senior year for the 2020-2021 season.

Ranked 38th overall in the class of 2021 in the 247Sports Composite, Branham was a starter in 31 of 32 OSU games last year. The season included a three-week hiatus in December due to positive Covid-19 tests from the program. When the season was stopped, Branham averaged only 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in the first 10 games of the season.

Branham himself never contracted the virus and, in fact, he spent much of that time working with his personal shooting coach to improve his range. When the OSU season resumed in January, Branham was a different player. He gave notice by scoring a career-high 35 points in the team’s first game since defeating Nebraska.

He ended up averaging 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 41.6% shooting from three-point range. In the team’s 22 games since the Covid break, Branham averaged 17.0 points per game. In addition to being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Branham was also selected by the All-Big Ten Third Team. He turned 19 in May.

The 6-7, 240-pound Belleville, Illinois native Liddell was a two-time state MVP and led Belleville West High School to a state championship. He was ranked 44th among national prospects in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite.

Liddell was a mainstay of the Buckeyes for three seasons. He played a total of 92 games with 61 starts. As a sophomore in the 2020-21 season, he averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Last season, Liddell was selected to the Big Ten First Team, averaging 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. All these were team achievements. He shot 49 percent from the floor, 37 percent from triples and 76 percent from the free throw.

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