Sometimes in life, as in basketball, timing is everything.
As a senior, Terence Dials got the most out of his 6-foot-9, 260-pound frame and led a surprising Ohio State team to a Big Ten title and earned the 2006 conference player of the year award.
But all careers come to an end, and in July, on his birthday, Dials was situated at a table at Scioto Reserve Country Club with coach Chris Holtmann when he decided to shoot his shot.
The two talked about life, basketball, the Buckeyes and Dials’ hope of working with the program in some fashion someday. It was July 15, and later that evening Scoonie Penn would take an assistant coaching position with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, a move that wouldn’t become public for a few more weeks.
But Dials found out that evening, and as soon as he did, he sprung into action.
“That's when I got my thumbs to work, texting everyone I could close to the program (that) I wanted the job,” Dials said. “I think it helped out that coach Holtmann had that conversation with me earlier that day. It’s perfect for me.”
The pitch that Dials unknowingly had made during dinner served him well. The hiring was officially announced Sept. 3, with Holtmann later saying that Dials was one of roughly a half-dozen candidates that included at least one woman.
His ties to the program helped tip the scales in Dials’ favor.
“That probably gave him an edge, the fact that he had played here,” Holtmann said Saturday at halftime of the football game. “I just thought Terence, with his playing-slash-professional experience in Columbus, would be the best candidate. I’m excited about him getting to work.”
After his international playing career ended in 2015, Dials said he worked in operations for DHL and ran a warehouse for two years before getting involved in real estate. His first day with the Buckeyes was Sept. 2.
The role is slightly different, with Dials serving as director of professional development after Penn’s two years as director of player development, and it’s one Dials feels he’s particularly suited for.
Holtmann’s stated goal for the position is to help players develop professional relationships within the community that will serve them when their playing careers are over, as well as to seek out community service opportunities. Like Penn’s job, this is a noncoaching role.
Dials said resources such as the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute that didn’t exist when he was a student have already been impactful.
“I’m starting to learn about what Ohio State can actually offer the athletes besides just a free education,” Dials said. “For me, it’s making sure that the guys are set up, whether they want to play professional basketball or want to go straight into the workforce, setting them up with internships, setting them up with jobs here locally.”
There will also be a mentoring component to the job.
“We’ll support your dreams to play pro, but we’ve got to put something together now so when you’re done playing pro, you have something to fall back on,” he said. “I think as basketball players, we come in with a notion that we’re going to make the NBA.
"If anybody is a testament to how hard that is, I was the Big Ten player of the year and didn’t get drafted, so it’s a hard league.”