Five Things To Know About Tony Skinn, Who Will Join Ohio State Basketball’s Coaching Staff As Assistant

By Colin Hass-Hill on May 20, 2021 at 3:57 pm
Tony Skinn

Entering his fifth year at Ohio State, Chris Holtmann has his fifth assistant coach as the team’s head man.

It’s Tony Skinn, who will come to Columbus after three seasons working under Kevin Willard at Seton Hall. He joins Ryan Pedon and Jake Diebler as the third assistant on the three-man bench.

Skinn’s still going through the hiring process, a source told Eleven Warriors, but as long as there aren’t any unexpected hiccups finalizing the deal he’s expected to be hired within the next week and possibly as soon as Monday.

Here are five things to know about Skinn.

Specific Role Unknown

The guy Skinn was brought in to replace – new Purdue assistant Terry Johnson – had duties he had become known for throughout his four years in Columbus. First and foremost, he was the team’s defensive coordinator, and he also worked with the big men on the roster.

Skinn, however, won’t walk in the door and take over his predecessor’s roles. Holtmann has already tabbed Diebler as the defensive coordinator, and he has been interested in moving other responsibilities around.

“I think this gives us an opportunity to maybe adjust some things and some roles within our staff,” he said last month. “That's something I had thought about here in a couple weeks – really, since the season ended.”

Skinn, per his bio on Seton Hall’s website, coached the guard position at his last stop. But it’s unknown whether he’ll specialize at a position while a part of Ohio State’s staff. All of those details will be worked out in due time.

Extensive Playing Career

Skinn could get a bucket himself back in the day. Just ask James Harden, who came up against the former Nigerian national basketball team point guard nine years ago.

Skinn began playing college hoops at Blinn College in junior college before transferring to George Mason, where he turned in three seasons mostly as a starter averaging 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. His three seasons playing on winning teams for Jim Larranaga ended when he helped take the 11th-seeded Patriots on a memorable run to the Final Four, taking down Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut before finally falling to Florida. Skinn was the second-leading scorer as a senior.

Out of college, he tried his hand at playing professionally, going undrafted and ending up overseas. He spent seven years overseas, playing in Croatia, France, Italy, Germany, Israel and Ukraine. Early in his 2006-12 playing career, he also was a member of the Orlando Magic's summer league team.

Diebler played Division I basketball at Valparaiso, Holtmann was an NAIA All-American at Taylor and Pedon was on Wooster’s team. They might not want to get matched up with the 38-year-old Skinn in a pickup game, though, as he’s the only one of them to play professionally.

History in DMV Area

Business in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia hasn’t really picked up for the Buckeyes under Holtmann. They haven’t landed any recruits out of the area, though they’ve been in the mix for a number, including LSU-bound big man Efton Reid, Texas A&M’s Henry Coleman, Duke’s Mark Williams and Miami’s Earl Timberlake.

Skinn will have a chance to use his long-standing connections to the area to Ohio State’s advantage.

His family moved from Nigeria to the United States when he was 2 years old, so the vast majority of his upbringing was in Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of D.C. He attended Takoma Academy for high school and, after his stint in junior college, was back in the area to play for George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia. Once his career as a player was over, he went back to where he grew up and became the athletic director at Paul International High School in Washington, D.C., while also working as an assistant coach for Team Takeover in 2012-15 on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“It’s a city obviously that I grew up in, and everybody there knows the George Mason story,” Skinn said of D.C. when he was hired by Seton Hall. “Everybody knows what I’m all about.”

Because it’s such a talent-rich environment, Holtmann has tried his hand at recruiting the DMV but hasn’t had much success up to this point. Bringing Skinn in potentially makes recruiting that area a more viable option for the Buckeyes.

Potential as A Recruiter

Diebler and Pedon each have had their fair share of recruiting wins over the past few years. Diebler has pulled in Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Eugene Brown and Zed Key, among others, while Pedon led the pushes for E.J. Liddell, Malaki Branham, Meechie Johnson and more. 

Skinn, who has shown promise on the trail up to this point, will try to match their successes.

While at Louisiana Tech – where he worked from 2015 to 2018 – he landed a commitment from Baltimore native DaQuan Bracey who turned into the Conference USA Freshman of the Year. He also pulled in Anthony Duruji, a Germantown, Maryland, native who became a double-figures scorer from the Bulldogs before he transferred to Florida a year after Skinn left.

In his time at Seton Hall, he was the primary recruiter for both 2020 signees, Maryland’s Dimingus Stevens and Texas’ Jahari Long, and incoming freshman point guard Ryan Conway, another Maryland product.

No Notable Ties to Ohio State or Holtmann

Each of the past four men to hold assistant coach positions on Holtmann’s staff have had extensive connections to him, the university or the area. 

Pedon, Johnson and now-Elon head coach Mike Schrage all worked with Holtmann at Butler and followed him to Ohio State. Pedon’s a Columbus native who has spent the majority of his life in the state of Ohio. Diebler grew up in Ohio, has a father who coached high school basketball in the state for almost four decades, is the brother of Jon Diebler who starred for the Buckeyes a decade ago and previously worked as a video coordinator for Ohio State in the mid-2010s. Numerous others who have held positions under Holtmann, including Terence Dials, Scoonie Penn and Greg Oden, have had ties to the basketball program.

Skinn has no such connections. Not to Ohio State, Holtmann or the state of Ohio.

He has never worked under Holtmann and does not have an Ohio or Ohio State background. He’s the first true outsider to come into the program as an assistant coach during Holtmann’s tenure. 

Every coach gets to the point where they make this kind of hire, and Holtmann is there now. Skinn, who’s viewed as a quick-riser in the profession, is the first to be brought in solely based on his interviews, his reputation and his recommendations.

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