Chris Holtmann Instilled Confidence and Patience In Ohio State Coaching Staff During Recruiting Lull

By James Grega on September 28, 2017 at 8:39 pm
Assistant coach Ryan Pedon

Less than two weeks ago, Ohio State's basketball program did not have one recruit in the 2018 recruiting class.

Now, it has four. 

Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff received verbal commitments from Jaedon LeDee, Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad and Justin Ahrens all within a week and as of Thursday evening, had the ninth-ranked 2018 class in the country according to 247Sports.

The September surge didn't come as a complete surprise to Holtmann, despite the slow start with the 2018 cycle. 

"I wasn't panicking a month ago. I wasn't panicking two weeks ago. As a staff, I said about nine or 10 days ago, 'The dam is about to break,'" Holtmann said. "Did I expect that number in a week? No. But you feel when you're having conversations with family members and recruits that good things are about to happen."

While Holtmann remained confident throughout the process, his motivating words to his coaching staff might have been needed, especially to assistant coach Ryan Pedon. 

Pedon said Thursday that Holtmann pulled him aside a few weeks ago to reassure him of the plan that the Ohio State coaching staff had put in place. 

"It was something personally, I probably needed at that time," Pedon said. "Coach Holtmann said, 'Listen, we can't succumb to pressure.' Anytime you take over a job with the magnitude of this, you have to be built to handle adversity, and certainly we have had some adversity."

"You have to keep perspective. If there is one thing our boss does very well, he keeps perspective."– Assistant coach Ryan Pedon on Chris Holtmann

The first case of adversity might have been when Torrence Watson, who committed to Holtmann in July, announced his decommitment around a month later. The Buckeyes got more bad news when Dwayne Cohill, from Holy Name High School near Cleveland, committed to Dayton over Ohio State and others. 

Through all of that, Pedon said Holtmann's confidence never seemed to waver. 

"You have to keep perspective. If there is one thing our boss does very well, he keeps perspective," Pedon said. "He never gets too high, and he never gets too low.

"We say it all the time, we are a values-based basketball program and we are process-driven. He believes in that, and we all believe in that," Pedon added. "(Holtmann) said to me, 'We just have to keep putting great days together and the results will come,' and when we talk about process, that's what we mean."

The four recruits in a six-day span are the most Holtmann said he has ever gotten in that short period of time, with his previous best being two in a 10-day span. Of those four, however, only one (Ahrens) is from Ohio. 

Holtmann said that while the 2018 class is almost exclusively made up of out-of-state players, he will continue to recruit Ohio harder than any other state in the country. 

"Our focus is always going to be inside-out. We are looking for Buckeyes. Guys that we identify as a coaching staff that they have the qualities that we are looking for," Holtmann said. "Recruiting inside-out begins with our state. I really believe that we are going to get our share of Ohio recruits. We are not going to get every good player in the state, but I believe we will get our fair share."

Having been hired late in the process, Holtmann has put together a top-10 class that includes a commitment from the sixth-ranked player in Ohio. The first-year Ohio State head coach gave a lot of credit for the Buckeyes' recent recruiting success to his staff, which appears to have benefited from his vote of confidence when things seemed bleak. 

"Our staff did a terrific job. Certainly our coaching staff that had built relationships with the young men, but also the staff that is in charge of on-campus recruiting," Holtmann said. "They did a terrific job. I give the staff a ton of credit for pulling that thing off."

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