It wasn’t always a guarantee that it would happen, but it appears to have been given the green light.
Malaki Branham is planning to wear the number 22 jersey at Ohio State that was retired in honor of former Buckeye star Jim Jackson and now hangs in the rafters at the Schottenstein Center. The official online roster was updated late this week, indicating that the freshman guard will suit up in 22, Kalen Etzler will wear 24, Joey Brunk will get 50 and Jamari Wheeler will rep 55.
Chris Holtmann, the team’s fifth-year head coach, had previously mentioned that Branham was interested in wearing 22 – the number he donned while taking St. Vincent-St. Mary to a state championship this year – but it wasn’t a sure thing considering Jackson had the number retired two decades ago.
“The biggest thing for him is he and I both have to write a letter or have him pick up the phone and call Jimmy Jackson because he really wants to wear that number,” Holtmann said on 97.1’s The Buckeye Show in May.
Now, all signs point to it becoming a reality.
Branham told the Columbus Dispatch that Holtmann spoke to Jackson about him wearing 22 and that Branham will have to write him a letter to thank him for allowing him to wear it. He says he plans to write it soon.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Branham said to the Dispatch. “Jimmy Jackson, Michael Redd also, so it’s a lot of good players that wore No. 22, and I’m trying to be the next one. It’s a lot of work I’ve gotta put in, but I think I’m ready for it.”
Jackson’s jersey is one of five that have been retired by Ohio State. John Havlicek (5), Jerry Lucas (11), Evan Turner (21) and Gary Bradds (35) also have had their numbers retired, and banners of Fred Taylor and Thad Matta hang inside the Schottenstein Center as well.
Cedric Russell, the most recent addition to the roster, is the only scholarship player on the current roster not to have a number yet. He wore 0 at Louisiana, but Meechie Johnson has laid claim to that number so he’ll need to find another.