Friday, November 10, 2017

Possession Arrow 11/10/17: A New Era Begins For Ohio State Basketball

By Pat Tregoning, @PatNShaker

For the first time since the 2004-2005 College Basketball Season, there is a coach leading Ohio State's men's basketball team NOT named Thad Matta.

Thad and Ohio State parted ways after 13 seasons with the program, in that time he finished with a record of 337-123 with five Big Ten regular season titles, nine NCAA Tournament appearances including one National Championship appearance and another Final Four appearance and one National Invitation Tournament (NIT) championship. Thad left a long legacy behind that most might say faded away towards the end, failing to reach the second weekend of the tournament from 2013-2017 and having a mass exodus of great talent as well in the final years he led the Buckeye program.

On June 9,2017, a new chapter had begun in Ohio State Basketball.

The Buckeyes named former Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann their 15th Head Coach in school history. He was the Head Coach at Butler from 2014-2017. Before that, he served as the Head Coach at Gardner-Webb from 2010-2013 and served as an Assistant Coach for Ohio University in 2008-2010.

The expectations for Ohio State Basketball this season are low, and for good reason. Chris Holtmann inherits a program that underwent a mass exodus of talent in the past few years, mostly due to unhappy players that played for Thad Matta transferring.

Obviously, the way to sustain yourself as a coach in ANY sport is simple as Al Davis once said it best (Just win, baby!). But there is a bigger task that Holtmann needs to accomplish if he wants to stay in Columbus long term.

He must win the recruiting battle, ESPECIALLY the recruiting battle in the state of Ohio.

When Thad Matta took over, he was getting the guys out of Ohio. He was recruiting the likes of Daequon Cook, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Kosta Koufos, Aaron Craft, B.J Mullens, William Buford, Jared Sullinger; I could go on forever. He was getting these young men at the time to buy in to the process of making Ohio State much more than a football school, but making Ohio State a two sport powerhouse. The results in that time spoke for themselves. Holtmann needs to do the same.

As the years progressed, Thad's message didn't resonate with both the players he had in the program already and with the top flight statewide recruits, opting to not stay home but go elsewhere. The list of notable recruits lost to outside schools is just dumbfounding. Talents like C.J McCollum (Lehigh), Trey Burke (Michigan), Zach Price (Louisville), Kenny Kaminski (Michigan State/ Ohio University), Caris LeVert (Michigan), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Luke Kennard (former Mr. Ohio Basketball; Duke), Carlton Bragg (Kansas; \Arizona State), Esa Ahmad (West Virginia), V.J King (Louisville), Nick Ward (Michigan State) and Omari Spellman (#1 recruit in Ohio, class of 2016 per; Villanova).

All of those players above are recruits that went on to make significant impacts to their respective schools and some of them have gone on to careers at the next level. Yet under Thad Matta? Ohio State didn't even bat an eyelash at them.

Two recruits that can help change that culture and image of Ohio State Basketball committed to Holtmann and Ohio State. Their names are Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson.

Kyle is a 6-6 Small Forward from Massillon Jackson High School in Stark County. He was the number two prospect in the state of Ohio (per He led the Jackson Polar Bears to a State Championship in 2017. He originally committed to Butler while Holtmann was the head coach, but flipped his commitment to the Buckeyes shortly after Holtmann became Head Coach.

Kaleb Wesson is a center from Westerville South, a city just north of Columbus. He was the number one prospect in the state of Ohio per His dominating play last season helped lead Westerville South to State Championship Game appearance.

Getting these two recruits are a big score for Holtmann and his staff here in Columbus and it is definitely a step in the right direction for the future of the Ohio State program.

In the end, if Chris Holtmann wants to find long term success in Columbus, he must not only bring back that culture that Matta had in the beginning of his tenure in Columbus and sustain it. He can not let the talented High School players found in Ohio, go anywhere but Ohio State.

The future is bright for Holtmann and the Buckeyes program, it's now up to them to build on it.

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