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Ohio State freshman sensation Malaki Branham announced Wednesday that he will not be back for a sophomore season and will be leaving Columbus and the Ohio State Buckeyes to accomplish his NBA dreams

Branham, who many predict as a first-round selection, said feedback from many NBA scouts and insiders helped him make his decision in a confident, yet tough way.

“Being a first-round pick, that was the biggest feedback I needed,” said Branham, a third-team All-Big Ten selection this past season who averaged 3.7 points per game.

Branham, who earned Mr. Ohio Basketball honors in 2021, also put up 3.6 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes this season. In conference play, Branham averaged 16.3 points on 52.3 percent shooting, and in the final 10 games of the year, his scoring average ballooned to 20.2 points at a 56.6 percent clip from the field.

Branham, a Columbus native who played high school basketball at Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, had eight 20-point performances in 2021-22, including a 31-point night in a win over Illinois on Feb. 24 and a 23-point effort to lead the Buckeyes in their season-ending loss to Villanova in the NCAA Tournament.