Ohio State Hoops Greats Gather For Alumni Dinner, Praise Chris Holtmann's Direction Of Program

By Derrick Webb on September 7, 2018 at 9:30 pm
Former Ohio State basketball great Jerry Lucas has a conversation before Friday's dinner, put on by Chris Holtmann, at the Schottenstein Center.

An event that found its origins at former Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta's house continued to grow Friday evening at the Schottenstein Center.

The Buckeyes' basketball program, led by coach Chris Holtmann, once again held an alumni dinner — giving current players and multiple hardwood legends the chance to meet and mingle.

Jerry Lucas, an NBA Hall of Famer who played at Ohio State from 1959-1962, was on hand and had good things to say about Holtmann and the direction his alma mater is progressing in.

But Lucas isn't involved in the program. He simply watched from afar like the rest of Buckeye Nation.

"I follow the program very, very closely but I'm not involved at all," Lucas said. "I'm just a fan today like a lot of other people are. I think, for any fan, (the direction the team is moving in) that's very positive. To have that happen, to look forward to more success in that area, is what every fan wants. That's what I am today. Just a fan, like everybody else."

"I follow the program very, very closely but I'm not involved at all. I'm just a fan today like a lot of other people are."– Jerry Lucas

Greg Oden, who led the Buckeyes to the Final Four in 2007 before becoming the No. 1 pick in that year's NBA Draft, was also on hand.

The 7-foot legend often works out with the program while he earns his degree.

"I see a lot of guys who just want to play basketball and enjoy it," Oden said of the Buckeyes' current roster. "Guys just want to compete. A lot of guys just practice and play. It becomes a routine. These guys, they want to. You can see that passion. You see it everyday. They want to play for each other."

Oden played under Matta, who started Friday's event some years back. But whoever you played under, according to Oden, if you're a Buckeye, you're a Buckeye.

"No matter how you look at it, we're family," Oden said. "I think that's what an event like this is for. It doesn't matter what coach you played for, what generation you played in ... we're all here, we're all Ohio State basketball players. This is a family."

Lucas concurred with Oden and added to his sentiments.

"I think anybody who has played for the Buckeyes is involved in a tradition that's hundreds of years long and will continue to be," Lucas said. "We're all proud to be part of Ohio State history. We want to see (the Buckeyes) succeed in the future and it's a joy to be here to see the kinds of things that are happening tonight."

Lucas said he hopes Ohio State can get back to the Final Four, a feat the program hasn't accomplished since 2012. How do they get there? It's pretty simple, according to him.

"Recruit the right players, coach them properly. It's as simple as that."

Ohio State will begin its 2018-19 season on Nov. 7 at Cincinnati.

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