Joey Brunk was an under-the-radar transfer to Ohio State this offseason as the ex-Indiana Hoosier and Butler Bulldog makes his final stop in Columbus for his graduate year.
Like veteran forward Kyle Young who was once committed to OSU head coach Chris Holtmann at Butler and then followed him to Ohio State, Brunk was with Holtmann his freshman season with the Bulldogs in 2016-17. After that he would play one more season for Butler then would go and play for Indiana University.
The 6’11” 255-lb transfer is effective in the paint and averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds during the 2019-20 season. Brunk underwent back surgery in December of 2020 and missed the 2020-21 season.
Brunk’s relationship with Holtmann is strong and it went a long way in being able to sway the big man to come play for the Buckeyes this year.
“I played for coach Holtmann when he was at Butler and we have that relationship and have had some good conversations. I talked to the rest of the staff and it seemed like the right fit,” Brunk said recently.
Brunk joins Jamari Wheeler from Penn State and Cedcric Russell from Louisiana, who are both looking to upgrade the Buckeye backcourt.
The relationship with his fellow transfers has been a nice help in adjusting to life with a new team, and it has also made him more comfortable.
“It’s been real smooth so far, Jamari [Wheeler] and I lived together this summer and it’s been a good coming together for the three of us. I just want to make the most of the opportunity here at Ohio State,” Brunk said.
Brunk will be battling second-year big man Zed Key for minutes at center. He brings something Ohio State lacks, which is an experienced center who has size and can be physical. Brunk has experienced Big Ten play and understands the need to out-physical opponents.
The addition of Brunk to the front court should pair well with Key, Young, and All-Big Ten forward EJ Liddell. Young will likely be out to start the season with a vestibular dysfunction per Holtmann. Forward Seth Towns is out as well and eyeing a mid-to-late December return, so having depth up front will allow the Buckeyes to weather things early in the season.
“He brings a lot to the table,” Liddell said of Brunk. “He can finish with both hands really well and I feel like he is going to exceed people’s expectations this year.”
As Brunk continues to work hard to earn a potential starting spot he is happy with his decision that he came to Ohio State.
“They’ve all been great, everyone’s been incredibly welcoming and I’ve just felt at home here,” Brunk said.
Ohio State recruited well in the transfer portal and the pickup of Joey Brunk will hopefully elevate their frontcourt into something special when it comes to dealing with the size of some players in the Big Ten.
Brunk and the Buckeyes have their exhibition coming up on Nov. 1 against Indianapolis at Value City Arena which will be streamed on BTN+.