Shortly after he gave his introductory press conference as Ohio State’s new head basketball coach, Chris Holtmann was approached by a former player. A pretty well-known one at that.
Scoonie Penn reached out to Holtmann and expressed interest in becoming part of the program. And, just a few weeks later, Penn was named the new director of player development at his alma mater.
“It really wasn’t a sales pitch, it was just truth that this was something I wanted to be a part of,” Penn said Tuesday. “I dabbed with wanting to be a coach for a long time because of my kids and I wanted to be around them a lot more and I understand the commitment that this takes, but I just told [Holtmann] like, ‘Listen, I’d love to be part of this and I will help any way I can. I kind of want to get in the game and this is a position I’m good for, useful for not only for your team but for this university.'"
"The dialogue went back and forth and we were able to come to this conclusion.”
Holtmann said he couldn’t be more excited to have a former player like Penn, someone who is so well-connected in the basketball world and with Ohio State itself, on board.
“Obviously, we’re excited about the addition of Scoonie,” Holtmann said. “Scoonie is beloved and he grabbed me right after my press conference here and said, ‘Hey, I’d love to get my foot in the door in coaching. I’ve been trying to do that and I’d love to do it at my alma mater.’ I think he’s going to get a good idea as to what the inner workings of a college basketball program is and he’ll certainly make an important contribution to our program.”
Penn’s job description is lengthy. There are limitations to what he can and cannot do. He can no longer practice with the current team nor can he do any on-court instruction. He can't go on the road recruiting, but he can get involved when prospects come to Ohio State’s campus for visits. He’ll also serve as a mentor to the current players, among many other things.
“At this point, I envision my role here just being a mentor to the guys,” Penn said. “My job description is a lot of different things, but just being that voice as a former player, a guy who’s played here and who’s close to the university. One thing I’ve noticed throughout the course of the years is there was something that’s lacking and I think I can bring that to the table just being that voice, that person to talk to. I’ve been through it, I know the things they’re going through and what they’ll be going through on and off the court.
“I hope to be just a tremendous asset to the guys on the team and the university because I do love this. I love basketball and I love this university so it falls right in line.”
Check out more comments from Holtmann and Penn in the videos posted above.