Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters on Wednesday along with freshman guard Malaki Branham. Branham reaffirmed his NBA draft intentions and afterward he and Holtmann answered questions about the decision process and feedback both had received. The highlights of everything that Holtmann and Branham had to say can be found below.
+ At what point did the reality hit Holtmann that Malaki Branham was different? Branham didn’t score against Wisconsin the first time they played and Branham was frustrated about that. Branham texted him a very long text early in the morning and said, “Hey Coach, I just want to thank you…you promised when recruiting me that you’d allow me to play through mistakes…” After the Indiana game, Holtmann texted some friends and Gene Smith that they needed to plan on Branham not being here next season.
+ This is great for Ohio State hoops. He’s aware that people have talked about OSU’s lack of first rounders of late. More so, he’s happy for Malaki Branham because he’s a good kid and a good person. When he gets calls from NBA personnel, he tells them “How long do you have?” because he can go on and on about Branham and EJ Liddell.
+ They anticipated Branham being a high-level player as a sophomore, so they need to make some adjustments now midstream.
+ The feedback from the NBA was that Branham was going to be a first rounder. And Branham thinks that will only get better when the workouts start.
+ Branham wasn’t thinking about playing for four years and he knew one-and-done was possible.
+ Branham wasn’t on any draft boards before the season but people eventually saw how good he really is. “I always thought he was undervalued as a player. I think he is an elite player. What people have seen is his age, combined with his length, with his really special touch…” “I think you have a really, really special NBA player.” He’s just scratching the surface.
+ The feedback from the NBA was Branham’s consistency beginning in January where he averaged 17 ppg the rest of the season.
+ Holtmann said he wasn’t thinking about four years either. He was thinking two or three. “This is a blessing for him and his family, and that’s the way I look at it.”
+ Branham hasn’t talked to any GMs or anything like that. His agent has talked to them. The agent hasn’t given him any specific feedback other than it’s been good.
+ Branham sees himself in the NBA as a guy that can go and get a bucket.
+ This is an important moment for OSU to have a couple of guys selected in the first round the same year. They are building some NBA numbers finally, and they’ve all taken different paths. “That’s important to us.” They get into coaching to help players reach their dreams.
+ Holtmann has had some healthy conversations with execs. “The consensus has been very positive.” The draft range he’s been given is well within the first round by everyone.
+ Branham thanked the fans. “Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye.”