Nick Kellogg Returns Home, Partners With Chris Holtmann After Forming Bond More Than 10 Years Ago: "It Feels Incredible"

By Griffin Strom on July 9, 2022 at 8:35 am
Nick Kellogg
Ohio State Dept. of Athletics

Nick Kellogg’s partnership with Chris Holtmann has been a long time coming. More than a decade in the making, in fact.

The pair first spoke when Kellogg, a central Ohio native and son of Buckeye legend Clark Kellogg, was recruited by the Ohio University coaching staff in the late aughts. The staff was led by head coach John Groce, a college teammate of Holtmann's at Taylor University, who gave his longtime friend an assistant coaching position with the Bobcats in 2008.

Holtmann left Ohio following the 2009-10 season, the year before Kellogg began his career with the Bobcats. But a relationship between the two had already been formed.

“We interacted a ton through that recruiting process, he got to meet my family, I know he came to my house once or twice,” Ohio State’s new assistant to the head coach/director of recruiting told members of the media at an introductory press conference Thursday. “So I don’t remember the specifics, but all I know is that he was a guy that I saw myself building a relationship with, even though I didn’t get a chance to play for him ultimately. We continued that relationship over the years and my playing days and professional days and obviously up until he reached out about this position.”

Even while Kellogg was playing pro basketball in countries like Georgia, Poland, Finland and France, Holtmann was never more than a text away. The sixth-year Ohio State head coach actually offered Kellogg a graduate assistant on his staff at Butler during Holtmann’s run with the Bulldogs from 2014-17.

“Once I graduated he followed my professional career a little bit, we would text, I would call him sometimes and we would talk then,” Kellogg said. “Then his stint at Butler, he actually offered me a GA spot there, so we talked quite a bit during one of those summers about potentially doing that. And from that point it was always just kind of checking in and seeing what I was doing. It just continued honestly, every so often we’d touch base. If I was ever in town I would try to swing by or whatever. Now we landed here.”

Following a season playing for Tampereen Pyrinto in Finland in 2019-20, Kellogg decided it was time for a change. He wound up joining the Milwaukee Bucks as the organization’s video coordinator in 2020-21, and the team went on to win the NBA Finals the very same season.

After Kellogg’s second year with the Bucks, Holtmann came calling with another job offer.

“He actually reached out to me, just trying to gauge my interest to see if it would be something I’d be open to hearing about,” Kellogg said. “As we continued to talk about the position and the responsibilities and the value he thought I could add, it lined up perfectly with what I want to do and the experience I already had with the Bucks. We continued to talk and I ultimately decided that this was a good move for me.”

Aside from his relationship with Holtmann, the chance to return home to Columbus was also alluring to Kellogg. In fact, he called it a “huge factor” in his decision to accept the vacant position with the Buckeyes.

“It feels incredible. Ever since I graduated in ‘14, I haven't lived in Columbus since then, really,” Kellogg said. “I’ve been overseas, I’ve been back for two-three months over the summer and then back off to the next team. To be back, it feels great to be close to my family and friends and obviously to represent an outstanding university and to be able to be a Buckeye and wear the scarlet and gray. It feels really good.”

Of course, Kellogg said his father – a Buckeye Hall of Famer who played for Ohio State from 1979-82 – fully supported the move as well. Nick Kellogg grew up watching tape of his dad playing in scarlet and gray, and now he'll don the same colors as a member of the program for the first time.

“He was thrilled. He didn’t try to sway me one way or another, but I could tell he was just excited at the opportunity for me to be back home and then obviously to represent the school he went to and has so much love and admiration for,” Kellogg said. “It’s definitely a good combo and it’s just a great experience all around. I’m thrilled, he’s thrilled, my mom as well. It’s just a good deal all around.”

As far as his responsibilities on staff for the Buckeyes, Kellogg will be something of a jack-of-all-trades. He said he’ll help out with any odds and ends Holtmann needs taken care of and may also dip into his video coordinating experience if called upon to do so. On the scouting side, Kellogg said his relationships as a local product of the area will only help recruiting efforts.

But for the most part, Kellogg will focus on fostering bonds with the current Buckeye roster as he eases into his new role over the coming months.

“The big piece that Coach Holtmann and I talked about was just relationship-building with the guys, being around the guys as much as I can,” Kellogg said. “Developing that relationship, developing that trust and respect to guide them and be a sounding board for them as well. That’s the part that I really want to bring to the program. With that previous playing experience, being in their shoes and having seen guys at the highest level – which, I’m pretty sure a lot of them aspire to be – that’s something I can really help them tap into.”

More than 10 years after their initial meeting, Kellogg hasn’t found any of Holtmann’s career accomplishments the least bit unexpected. Now finally given the chance to work together, their successes will be shared moving forward.

“I didn’t get to play for him, but everyone that did, I’m not surprised at all in terms of the kind of teacher he is, the kind of coach he is, the kind of person he is,” Kellogg said. “When you put in the work and the hours and you care about people, good stuff tends to happen. He’s a heck of a coach and I’m not surprised.

“It’s a heck of a program and to finally be a part of it means a ton.”

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