Today, Ohio State officially announced what has been widely-speculated for over a week: former Buckeyes assistant Chris Jent is coming back to Columbus to begin his second go-around on Thad Matta's staff.
Jent, formerly an assistant coach with four NBA franchises and most recently the head coach of the NBA D-League's Bakersfield Jam, previously served under Matta from 2011-13. During Jent's first term with the Scarlet and Gray, Ohio State went 60-16, won a Big Ten regular season and tournament title, played in two Elite Eights and reached the 2012 Final Four. The former Buckeye player fills in the vacancy left by current Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals.
Known as a strong offensive mind -- Jent was once LeBron James' personal shooting coach -- Matta's newest assistant could provide a much-needed spark to what's been an unremarkable Ohio State offense in recent years, as the Buckeyes have finished 151st, 28th, and 128th in Ken Pomeroy's offensive efficiency rankings over the past three seasons.
During Jent's first stint, Ohio State was fifth (2011-12) and 11th (2012-13) in Pomeroy's rankings, though it's worth noting the presence of strong scorers Jared Sullinger (2012), William Buford (2012), and Deshaun Thomas (2012-13) certainly boosted the Buckeyes' offensive chops. But due to recruiting and player development misfires (and perhaps some bad luck), Ohio State's offense has regressed in recent years. On the bright side, Jent should be molding what could be semi-imposing offense in 2016-17, as the team stands to retain its top six scorers.
Jent's rehiring caps a much-needed stretch of good tidings for Matta's program. Following an underwhelming, NCAA Tournament-less season and a trio of transfers that reduced his No. 5-ranked Class of 2015 recruiting class to one player (JaQuan Lyle), Matta has now brought back a respected assistant and secured commitments from two players: JUCO guard C.J. Jackson (a much-needed secondary ball handler and shooter) and Class of 2016 swingman Andre Wesson (a late-rising three-star prospect).
Ohio State has yet to announce a replacement for video coordinator Jake Diebler, who reportedly took an assistant coaching gig with Vanderbilt.