Throughout his first season as Ohio State men’s basketball coach, Chris Holtmann had a joke at the ready when discussing the leadership qualities of Andrew Dakich.
Usually it included how in team settings Dakich, the son of former Bowling Green and Indiana coach Dan Dakich, often chimed in and added his thoughts along with the coaches as if he were one of them.
Now, at least for one season, he will be in a limited capacity. Pending final paperwork, the former Michigan walk-on who played for the Buckeyes as a graduate transfer last season will return for the 2018-19 season as a graduate assistant as he finishes up his schooling. Dakich is weighing a future in the coaching profession while finishing a degree in sports coaching.
“I don’t know if I’m 100 percent committed to coaching, but I know I’m 100 percent committed to knowing if I want to get into it,” Dakich told The Dispatch on Monday in a phone interview from his home in Indiana.
“I’m going to give it this year and learn. I’m very grateful they’re going to give me this opportunity to want me back and come back and finish my master’s and learn. As a basketball player, you’re not behind the scenes with practice plans, schedules, who we’re recruiting, et cetera. It’ll be fun to be a part of that.”
As a relative unknown commodity on the court, Dakich arrived at Ohio State having scored 20 total points during four years at Michigan, which included a redshirt season.
He played himself into a significant role for the Buckeyes, though, handling important minutes at point guard and adding much-needed depth to the backcourt. In 34 appearances that included a start on senior night, he averaged 3.0 points and 1.8 rebounds and finished with 72 assists to 37 turnovers.
He also provided valuable leadership to a program in transition that exceeded preseason predictions, missing a Big Ten title by one game and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament.
“We are really excited about having Andrew in our program for another year as he finishes his master’s program,” Holtmann said. “He possesses a great feel and understanding for the game as well as how good teams function. As he continues to determine if he wants to coach, we think he will be a real asset to this 2018-19 Buckeye team in his role as a GA.”
He won’t be the only accomplished player on Holtmann’s staff. Greg Oden will return as a student assistant coach with an eye on earning his degree next spring.
Dakich again will have the chance to help provide leadership on a team that will have a graduate transfer in Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods and one recruited scholarship senior in C.J. Jackson. The possibility was raised by Holtmann, Dakich said, during a postseason meeting.
“They wanted to see if I wanted to come back because they really wanted me back to help in that (leadership) department,” Dakich said. “It meant a lot. I think they want me to be another voice. I see that being a big role and a big key for next year and we’re going to need it, because we’re going to be young.”