Ohio State lands commitment from Indiana transfer Joey Brunk

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Mar 7, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Joey Brunk (50) shoots the ball while Wisconsin Badgers forward Micah Potter (11) defends in the first half at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Days after waiting alongside the rest of the nation for a decision that never came, Ohio State has landed a big man for the 2021-22 season.

Joey Brunk, who will be entering his sixth and final season of college basketball, will close it out with the first coach he signed to play for, Chris Holtmann. The 6-foot-11, 255-pound veteran has committed to the Buckeyes as a transfer after spending the past two seasons at Indiana.

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Before that, Brunk played for Butler, where as a freshman he was coached in 2016-17 by Holtmann in what would be his last season with the program before joining the Buckeyes.

His addition gives Ohio State a legitimate low-post option who will team with sophomore Zed Key to hold down the center position and help keep E.J. Liddell, should he not sign with an agent, at power forward. Known primarily for his ability as a post defender and scorer as well as a rebounder, Brunk has averaged 5.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in four active seasons while never averaging more than 20 minutes per game.

The commitment comes after the Buckeyes were among the finalists for Efton Reid, a five-star prospect in the class of 2021 who was set to announce his college decision Thursday. Instead, Reid’s mother posted a message on Twitter that his decision had been postponed, and it’s unclear what his future plans are or what schools he is still considering.

Brunk’s addition occupies the final open roster spot for the Buckeyes, who have two players — Duane Washington Jr. and Liddell — going through the NBA draft process while retaining their collegiate eligibility. Brunk is taking advantage of the NCAA’s decision to grant all players an extra year of eligibility for this season.

He won’t be the only player doing so on the Ohio State roster. Brunk will join fifth-year forward/center Kyle Young, who announced Friday that he will play one more season with the Buckeyes.

Buckeyes basketball:Kyle Young to return for one more year with Ohio State

Despite not playing last season due to a back injury, Brunk was a team captain for the Hoosiers and is expected to be fully healthy when he gets to Ohio State. As a freshman at Butler, Brunk appeared in only seven games and was awarded a hardship waiver by the NCAA after his father, Joe, was diagnosed with cancer. He would pass away in April, 2017.

Brunk played for the Bulldogs for the next two seasons before transferring to Indiana following the 2018-19 season, when he shot 61.7% from the field, a mark that’s among the 10 best single-season performances in school history. He then joined the Hoosiers with two years of eligibility and posted his most productive season, averaging 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while starting 31 of 32 games in 2019-20.

After the Hoosiers fired coach Archie Miller, Brunk announced his plans to play his final year of college basketball elsewhere. He’s the second player to transfer to the Buckeyes from within the Big Ten, joining former Penn State guard Jamari Wheeler.

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ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy