Talented 5-foot-11 sophomore guard Dewayne Russell will stay close to home, once again, and will play the remainder of his college basketball career right here in Phoenix, Arizona, after Russell gave a verbal commitment to Grand Canyon University on Saturday afternoon.
Russell, who had been highly sought after by numerous division-I programs recently after deciding to transfer from Northern Arizona University last month, gave head coach Dan Majerle and his coaching staff a nice surprise on Saturday - calling the staff and advising them of his interest in playing for the rising college program.
Since obtaining his full release from NAU, Russell became a serious recruiting target by many division-I college programs. Russell received significant interest from Iowa, UAB, Saint Mary’s, Creighton, Grand Canyon, Texas-San Antonio, North Texas, UTEP, Cal-State Bakersfield, Iona and Western Kentucky – with each school extending a scholarship offer to the high-scoring guard prospect.
Russell took official recruiting visits to UAB, Saint Mary’s and Cal-State Bakersfield, and spent a lot of time on the campus of Grand Canyon University – speaking to head coach Dan Majerle and his staff.
Not every one of the schools recruiting Russell had a scholarship at semester, which would have caused Russell to have to go the junior college route for a semester. Russell told me that he was not interested in attending a junior college, and instead wanted to focus on schools that had a scholarship at the semester.
It had seemed that Russell would be a integral part of the basketball program for the Lumberjacks, especially after a stellar freshman season where he posted averages of 14.4 points and 3.2 assists per game as a freshman in 2012-13. Instead, Russell and Northern Arizona head coach Jack Murphy would mutually part ways with one another - just 3 days before the start to the 2013-2014 college basketball season.
Russell scored a team-high 27 points in the Lumberjacks’ lone exhibition, a 92-85 loss to Arizona Christian on October 31st. Just days later, Russell would get his release from the Northern Arizona basketball program.
Russell had a tremendous senior season in the state of Arizona – leading his high school program, Peoria High School, to the Division-II state championship after a narrow championship win over defending state-champion Amphitheater HS. Russell also led Peoria High School to an impressive 27-3 record on the season. Russell poured in an average of 27 points, 5.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 steals per/game during his senior season.
Russell was also selected by our Arizona Preps’ staff for an invite to the Reebok Breakout Camp in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July, and was selected as the Arizona Republic Big School Player of the Year.
Russell originally committed to attend USC before ultimately landing at NAU during his senior season.
Last season as a freshman for NAU, Russell reached double figures (scoring) in 25 of the Lumberjacks’ 32 games, scoring a career-high 25 points on two separate occasions.
Congratulations to Russell and his family on this amazing accomplishment. He is a wonderful young man with excellent work ethic and high character. Dewayne Russell is an inspiration to many student-athletes in the Arizona community, and he should make the Grand Canyon University basketball staff very proud.
Arizona Hoop Review Scouting Report: Russell is as talented a guard prospect as there is for his size. His superior athleticism and quickness allows him to make plays most prospects his size cannot. He is a relentless driver of the basketball and has explosive quickness off the dribble, which he is able to use to create space off the dribble and finish plays. He has a nice jump shot shooting stroke, which he uses to make himself tough to defend off the bounce. Russell’s shot selection can be questionable at times, but he makes up for it with his tenacious attitude on the floor – always wearing his game face. He is an excellent defender and can become a lock-down defender if he chooses to focus on it. He has excellent lateral quickness and is known for beating his man to the spot on the floor. Russell is an excellent passer and has excellent court vision to boot, but he does gamble at times, but you can live with it. A very good penetrator that finishes plays over bigger defenders, and also sets his teammates up nicely. A big-time sleeper prospect. De-committed from USC in high school.