Tony Skinn, the newest member of Chris Holtmann’s coaching staff, met with reporters for the first time as a Buckeye. He answered questions from the media in attendance and discussed what he’s been up to in his first month, what the Ohio State brand means in recruiting, what his role will be at Ohio State moving forward, and much, much more. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
— How settled is he feeling a month in? “It’s been a whirlwind to say the least.” He’s trying to get acclimated to the job, but also getting acclimated to Columbus on a personal level. It’s been non-stop having recruits in this month as well.
— His focus this past month has been on getting to know the players. As much as you want to recruit, “it starts with home” and getting to know the most important guys, which are the players currently on the team.
— How familiar was he with Ohio State? In the coaching industry, he came from the Big East, so he was familiar with Butler and Chris Holtmann. But Ohio State is a big brand. It’s a no-brainer. He was excited when he got the first phone call, and maybe a little too over-excited because these things can fall through. He’s always wanted to be part of a brand like Ohio State, so he’s excited for this opportunity. “It’s something that excites you.”
— He doesn’t believe in forcing relationships, so when you get to somewhere new, the relationship-building has to be organic. They get to know each other on the court. They’re all there this summer, so it’s all coming along.
— How is the coaching staff meshing? “I’m the new guy, so it’s day to day.” He was comfortable taking this job because he knew this staff indirectly through so many other coaches. Basketball coaching is a small world, so he knew enough to know he wanted to be here. “It’s been fun. They’ve made things pretty easy for me transition-wise.” It’s not all work, there’s some fun and joking in there as well.
— From an expectation level, he was comfortable in taking this job because Ohio State is trending up. Hopefully having EJ Liddell coming back will help. (No mention of Duane Washington returning.)
— He likes that this coaching staff can still get out on the court and do some teaching. They can relate with the players, who are all very coachable.
— Chris Holtmann does his research on potential staff hires. He knew a lot about Skinn personally without Skinn having to tell him. He made it easy to talk, but Skinn was a bit nervous the first time they talked. He was on vacation the second time they really talked. They spent an hour on the phone talking. The first conversation was shorter and there was nothing in the days afterward, so he felt he was out of the picture. Once the job was offered, it was a no-brainer.
— Skinn said he thinks he brings something different to the staff. He brings something that is outside of Holtmann’s coaching tree and outside of Ohio. He’s from the DMV, which is a rich region that has been untapped at Ohio State.
— Ohio State is a national program, so you can’t just limit yourself to recruiting what’s in Ohio. But also him being from the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, he can’t just rely on that area for recruiting. The ability to know everyone is key. When he got the job, he got congratulatory texts from a lot of coaches that he hadn’t talked to in a while.
— On the current team he’s been working with Justin Ahrens, Jimmy Sotos, and Eugene Brown. Sotos just broke a shooting record during a workout. He’s a high-level shooter. The record broke was the Celtic drill. You get a minute to make as many shots as you can.
— House hunting has been tough because of the recruiting in June. They’ll have more time at the end of the month. He has a 14-year old who’s pretty good, so they’re trying to find a good spot. Plus, Skinn doesn’t like to drive much, so he wants to be close to work so he’s not stuck in traffic all the time. He had enough of that in New York at Seton Hall.
— Chris Holtmann originally reached out just by text. “A soft text.” His family is a basketball family, so when they heard “Pops is involved with Ohio State,” they thought he already had the job, but he had to explain that this is a process. So they didn’t give him any grief for having to spend some time on vacation talking on the phone with Holtmann.
— Name, Image, and Likeness is going to be enhanced by having a brand like Ohio State backing you. He’s not sure where this will all go, but he knows OSU matters when it comes to establishing your own personal brand.
— It was great to finally get out on the road scouting. It was so unfair to the players to be locked out of being seen last year by coaches.
— He knows a lot of people, but he doesn’t always want to talk to a lot of people when he’s in a gym scouting. But wearing the Ohio State logo means he had to put all of that aside and talk to a lot more people.
— This is such a unique and top-tier program, that there are so many different things you have to evaluate in scouting. You have to make sure you’re getting the right type of guys who are going to lead your program. The Big Ten is the best league in college basketball, so you have to get elite talent to win. Part of his evaluation process is whether or not he could see himself playing on the court with that guy.
— Every coach’s path is different. He is blessed to have this opportunity, but he doesn’t compare himself to any other coaches because each journey is different. He hasn’t been in the business for long — his first job was 2015 — but he’s always been a chip-on-the-shoulder kind of guy.
— His job has been made easier because this is a self-motivated program. Everybody is in unison. They pull each other up and motivate each other. “It’s almost like having 14 coaches on the court together.” You can see the culture at work.
— His specific duties will come down the line. They’ve just been doing recruiting so much right now.
— What’s beneficial about him being an outsider? He’s a different voice. You can’t develop in life without listening. Chris Holtmann is the head coach, but when you sit in the staff meeting with him, he’s listening to his staff. It gives everyone the confidence to share their thoughts. Whether Skinn is right or wrong, he’s providing a different voice.