COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s new basketball coaching staff has been hard at work on the recruiting trail.
At “An Evening with Chris Holtmann” on Tuesday at Value City Arena, Ohio State’s new head coach told a crowd of season-ticket holders that he and his assistant coaches had been out on the road recruiting “for the better part of the last three weeks,” taking advantage of the three evaluation periods allowed within the NCAA’s recruiting calendar during the month of July.
Holtmann acknowledges that he and his staff, who have still only been at Ohio State for less than two months, have had to play catch-up on the recruiting trail, particularly with players the Buckeyes are targeting for the class of 2018.
That said, Holtmann feels good about what he and his assistants – who were all at Butler before arriving at Ohio State in June – have been accomplish on that end so far.
"We’ve had great conversations," Holtmann said during a press conference after Tuesday’s event. "In some cases, we’re a little bit behind in ‘18 with some young men, but I think we’re making up ground, and that’s exciting to me. Some of the relationships that we had prior have continued, and that’s helpful, and we’re very excited about that. We’re excited about putting together a really solid class."
Although Holtmann acknowledges that Ohio State has a greater potential to reach recruits nationwide than Butler, he and his staff are still recruiting some of the same players because they’re still looking for the same kind of players they were recruiting at Butler – not necessarily in terms of their ability as basketball players, but in terms of who they are as people.
"We are going to recruit inside-out," Holtmann said. "In other words, we are looking first and foremost for people with outstanding character. People that will fit into this place well. That’s what we’ve always done. That’s what we’re certainly going to continue to do."
As Holtmann told the crowd assembled Tuesday about his recruiting philosophy, the Value City Arena scoreboard displayed a slide with a bulleted list of Holtmann’s “Shared Qualities of Our Recruits”:
- Fit Our Values
- Believe 100%
- Compete in the Classroom
- Represent Their Family and School
While Holtmann and his assistants are traveling the country in search of talent, Holtmann said they are placing an emphasis on recruiting some of the top players in the state of Ohio.
"We’ve always tried to recruit in our footprint, wherever I’ve been. I think that’s really important," Holtmann said. "I’m not here to say that we’re going to get every single player in the state, but we’re going to get our fair share and we’re certainly going to work at it, be committed to it. We’re going to recruit the state exceptionally hard."
Coaching at Ohio State comes with some clear advantages in recruiting over coaching at Butler, particularly in the level of resources the university can provide. One of Holtmann’s biggest sales pitches to recruits, though, has been the potential for players to come in and contribute right away.
"We have opportunity for immediate impact and playing time because of the lack of depth on our roster and some of the turnovers in the next couple years, so I think we’ve communicated that," Holtmann said. "But more than anything, like we would with any young man, what we’ve really tried to do is communicate what this place is, our vision for the program and our vision for that particular recruit, how we see them fitting in. So that’s been good. It’s been receptive."
“We are looking first and foremost for people with outstanding character.”– Chris Holtmann
Holtmann had to hit the ground running upon his arrival at Ohio State to recruit players for the upcoming season, and he has successfully added four players to the 2017-18 roster. Two of them were previously committed to play for Holtmann at Butler: Kyle Young, a four-star recruit from Massillon, Ohio, and Connor Fulton, a preferred walk-on from Draper, Utah. The Buckeyes were able to land Musa Jallow, a three-star recruit from Bloomington, Indiana, when he reclassified to the class of 2017 from 2018. Ohio State also landed Andrew Dakich as a graduate transfer from Michigan.
Recruiting players for the upcoming season in such a short time frame was a new challenge for Holtmann and his assistants.
"It was unlike anything I ever experienced," Holtmann said. "Having to put the finishing touches to a roster together in June, I think was unlike anything our staff had experienced."
Holtmann still plans to add more walk-ons to the 2017-18 roster. He said the staff has also been working hard to potentially add another scholarship player through reclassification, though he is uncertain whether that will come to fruition as time is running out.
"We've worked extensively on that because our roster could use, certainly our roster could use another guard," Holtmann said. "It is getting late and it's difficult for kids at this point to make decisions this late, but we're pursuing some things. I can't right now with confidence say we're going to add another one though."
While NCAA rules prohibit Holtmann from discussing any potential recruits by name, one rumored candidate to potentially reclassify into Ohio State’s 2017 class has been Eric Ayala, a four-star guard from Wilmington, Delaware.
Looking forward to the 2018 recruiting class, Ohio State has already landed a commitment from Torrence Watson, a four-star shooting guard from St. Louis, Missouri. Holtmann and his staff weren’t able to make up enough ground, however, to land the top two Columbus-area players in the 2018 class. Upper Arlington’s Dane Goodwin decommitted from Ohio State after Thad Matta’s departure, and his since committed to Notre Dame, while Pickerington’s Jerome Hunter committed last month to Indiana.
That leaves the Buckeyes coaches with plenty of work to do before preseason practices begin in October.
"Any coach will tell you he’s anxious to get on the practice floor," Holtmann said. "We’ve got a lot of visits and recruiting to get done before then."