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What does Chris Holtmann bring to Ohio State in recruiting?

For one, a renewed focus on Ohio and the midwest.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-North Carolina vs Butler Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official, Chris Holtmann is the next head coach of the Ohio State men’s basketball team. The former Butler head man, while not a huge household name, is certainly a guy that brings a lot to the table in Columbus. He’s been a head coach for six years, serving stints at Gardner-Webb, and Butler. In those six years, Holtmann has put up a 114-85 record, or just about 57%, though his best work was done in his three years at Butler, where he accumulated a 70-31 record, just under 70%.

Holtmann is usually thought of as a developer, and that’s fair, though his recruiting prowess should not be overlooked. He certainly didn’t have much of a choice to do anything but develop at Gardner-Webb, but still brought in a few decent players, and turned them into very valuable contributors in his time in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

Holtmann recruiting at Gardner-Webb

Year Class Rank Avg Rating
Year Class Rank Avg Rating
2010 257 0.7333
2011 215 0.7667
2012 NR NR

It wasn’t until he got to Butler that Holtmann really started to show his ability as a recruiter. His first two classes were pretty standard, especially because of a lack of scholarships available, but in his final two years with the Bulldogs, Holtmann recruited at a very high level, landing a number of players with serious, power five level talent. His biggest recruiting victory came against Ohio State, when he landed one of the Buckeye’s top targets, four-star forward Kyle Young out of Massillon.

Holtmann recruiting at Butler

Year Class Rank Avg Rating
Year Class Rank Avg Rating
2014 63 0.8656
2015 103 0.8356
2016 45 0.8928
2017 34 0.9001

Holtmann may not be the kind of big name that people were (unrealistically) expecting, but he’s probably the best possible option for Ohio State, especially given the terrible timing of this coaching search. Gene Smith said he wants to hire a coach that can recruit, because recruiting is the “lifeblood of the program”, and Holtmann absolutely fits that requirement.

The first big test will be what Holtmann is able to do for the 2018 recruiting class. 2018 is a deep class for Ohio talent, and thanks to decommitments, transfers and graduation, the Buckeyes have plenty of scholarships to distribute.

Butler has already offered big names like four-star combo guard Dwayne Cohill and four-star small forward Jerome Hunter. Butler had also recruited former Ohio State commit Justin Ahrens. There’s plenty of high level talent, especially at the wings, out there, and if Holtmann can lock some of it up, Ohio State’s rebuild will get a lot easier.

It’s hard to know exactly what Holtmann will do in Columbus, which is why it’s important to withhold judgement for a few years. He’s getting an eight year contract, which usually means that Ohio State is trusting him to rebuild the program. Rebuilds take a few years, and it’ll likely get worse, at least on the court, before it gets better. However, if what he did at Butler is any indication, Holtmann has the ability to recruit very well, and putting him in a talent rich area, at a school with all the resources you could possibly ask for should yield some very good results.

There’s a lot we can learn from history, in all situations, and that’s true in sports as well. Holtmann’s history says that he can develop players, regardless of their recruiting rankings. With how loaded the state of Ohio is for the next few years, if Holtmann can lock down the top in-state talent, and develop like he did at Butler and Garder-Webb, Ohio State will return to where they once were under Thad Matta, sooner, rather than later.