In the midst of a complete overhaul of the basketball program, Ohio State scored their third 2017 commitment last week, four-star shooting guard Musa Jallow. A Bloomington, Indiana native, Jallow passed on his hometown Indiana Hoosiers, among others, for the rebuilding Buckeyes.
Up until his commitment, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing was listed as a 2018 recruit, but reclassified and will be able to play this season for the Scarlet and Gray. Jallow took a break from preparation and spoke with us about his relationship with the Buckeyes new coaching staff, why OSU was the best fit for him, and if the team is primed to defy expectations.
(Note: Remarks lightly edited for clarity.)
Land-Grant Holy Land: You’re a Bloomington native and received offers from Butler, Virginia, and many others, including your hometown Indiana Hoosiers. What stood out to you about OSU?
Musa Jallow: Under the new coaching staff at Indiana, I didn’t have an offer. I picked OSU because of where they’re headed now. They have Coach Holtmann and when he called, he was pretty fired up about what they’re going to do these next couple of years. I love his energy towards the situation and his mindset for it. I feel like I fit his mold and can help him do what he wants to do.
LGHL: Not many fans are very familiar with the new basketball coaching staff, especially Coach Holtmann. What’s your relationship with him like?
Jallow: We had a pretty good relationship when he was at Butler. His main focus is just playing hard and being the aggressors on defense, pushing the tempo, high motor play, things like that. That’s what I want to do at the next level, so I thought I’d fit perfectly in that system.
LGHL: Did it bother you that the new coaching staff at Indiana didn’t offer you?
Jallow: To me, Indiana was just another high-level school that was recruiting me, so I didn’t let it bother me too much. It just showed me that I need to keep working harder. At the end of the day, it didn’t work out and I found the best fit for me. I’m happy with my choice.
LGHL: Most people found out you reclassified for the 2017 recruiting class when you committed to OSU last week. Why did you decide to reclassify?
Jallow: Since my freshman year of high school, I’ve been taking a good class load and was prepared to have that availability. I just wanted to make my high school years as efficient as possible. So, when this situation opened up, I was ready for it and took it.
LGHL: Did you enjoy being recruited? I’m sure there was a good amount of pressure on your shoulders considering you’re from Bloomington.
Jallow: Yeah, it was cool. It’s pretty awesome to go around and see a lot of campuses and feel wanted by a lot of people. There were some days where it’d get a little annoying. I told my coach that I was sick of the phone calls and he told me that it was a good problem to have because some kids are just dying to get one phone call or a letter. That made me grateful for the situation I’m in and I’m just really happy that I got this opportunity.
LGHL: You’re known as a do-everything type of player, but will you bring to the table as a Buckeye?
Jallow: I can do anything. I’m a very coachable player and whatever Coach Holtmann wants me to do, I can do it. I can bring the ball up, I can shoot, I can play off the ball, I can even go in the post if I have a mismatch. I can grab a rebound and push it coast to coast and make plays for my teammates. I’m just a team player and will do whatever the team needs to win.
LGHL: Making the jump to college basketball isn’t easy by any means. Is there anything in particular that you’re working on this summer to prepare yourself?
Jallow: I just have to be able to play at a high level the whole game. In high school, it’s just a different pace and it’s not as demanding as the college level is. I’m looking forward it, just being able to play at a high level against good competition. I’m confident in myself.
LGHL: You’ve gotten to know the team pretty well and will be joining them in about a month. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
Jallow: We want to turn heads, win as many games as possible and do what people think we can’t. I won’t be there until August 15, but I know a lot of the guys on the team and they’re looking forward to having a great season this year, especially the seniors.
LGHL: Favorite basketball player growing up and why.
Jallow: I’d probably say LeBron. He does everything for his team and he makes his team better. He brings his whole team to another level and I feel like I can bring that to the next level.
Jallow: Not get Carmelo Anthony. The Warriors are just young and fast and play as a team, and that’s what the Cavs need. It takes time to get the right combination for a team.
LGHL: Before you head off to college, do you have a favorite moment from your high school basketball career?
Jallow: There were some good moments. One that comes to mind was just last year in our last regular season game. Away, in front of a sold out crowd, I was at the free throw line and the entire crowd was just booing me. I knocked down both free throws and they still kept booing me. It was a great feeling, I like playing in situations like that.