Ohio State freshman guard Malaki Branham announced on Wednesday that he is staying in the 2022 NBA Draft.

“I want to give a special thanks to Coach Holtmann for believing in me and trusting my abilities,” Branham said after making it known that he was staying in the draft.

Branham originally announced his intentions to test the draft waters on April 1, and in the days after he advised people that he would be sticking in the draft should he be projected as a first-round pick. Most mock draft projections have had Branham just outside the lottery and well inside the first round.

“This is obviously a big day for Malaki and his family,” OSU men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann said. “And it’ll be even be a bigger day on June 23. And really, it’s it’s a great day most importantly for his family. It’s a great day for our program. It’ll be a great day for Ohio State when he hears his name called.”

The deadline to drop out of the draft and return to school is June 1, but that date now appears to be moot.

Branham was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year this past season for the Buckeyes. He averaged 13.7 points per game while starting 31 of OSU’s 32 games.

Branham shot .530 from two-point territory this season, .416 from three-point range, and made 83.3% of his free throws. In Big Ten play, he scored 16.3 points per game.

Branham scored at least 20 points in seven conference games this past season, with a career-high 35 points at Nebraska in January. Over his last 10 games this past season, Branham averaged 20.2 points per game.

Holtmann has been working hard this month to attempt to replace Branham via the transfer portal and has brought in Wright State wing Tanner Holden and West Virginia shooting guard Sean McNeil.

Holtmann is also bringing in a talented recruiting class, which features Roddy Gayle, who is the No. 4 shooting guard in the nation. Ohio State is also adding 3-star shooting guard Bowen Hardman out of Cincinnati Princeton.

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