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.
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.
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 247sports.com; 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.
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 247sports.com). 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.
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.