Fatts Russell will be back in Kingston next season.
The University of Rhode Island’s star guard announced on his Instagram Wednesday night that he would return for his senior season. The first-team all-conference selection had previously declared for the NBA Draft, while leaving open the possibility of returning to school after getting feedback from the professional ranks.
Clearly a fan of the popular Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance,” Russell posted a graphic under the same headline and followed Jordan’s playbook from his return to basketball with a two-word statement: “I’m back.”
Amid a busy off-season of comings and goings, Russell’s return ranks as the most important move for the Rams. He led the team and ranked third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season. With the graduation of Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine and the departures of Tyrese Martin and Jacob Toppin via transfer, the Rams will need to put even more on Russell’s shoulders for his final season in Keaney Blue.
With another strong showing, Russell will leave URI with his fingerprints all over the school’s record books. He is at 1,255 career points. Another year at 18.8 points per game - his average this past season - would likely put him in the top five of the all-time scoring list, depending on the number of games on the schedule. A few more points per game could get him even higher, potentially challenging the top three of Carlton Owens (2,114), Tyson Wheeler (1,918) and E.C. Matthews (1,899).
Russell also gets it done at the other end of the court. He was two steals away from the single-season school record when this past season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sitting just 38 steals shy of Keith Cothran’s career record of 207, he will likely end up at the top of that chart.
Preseason A-10 honors are sure to roll in for Russell, who could become URI’s first two-time all-conference first team selection since Will Daniels in 2007 and 2008.
Russell declared for the draft on March 27. Less than two months later, the team he’s returning to looks a lot different, with Martin at UConn, Toppin at Kentucky and Mekhi Long at Old Dominion. Four transfers are set to join the Rams, along with incoming freshman guards Ishmael Leggett and Tres Berry.
Returning players Antwan Walker and Jermaine Harris will flank Russell, along with Jeremy Sheppard and D.J. Johnson, who sat out this past season.