Ohio State officially announces Tony Skinn as new assistant coach

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
As a player at George Mason, guard Tony Skinn helped the Patriots to a surprise run to the Final Four in 2006.

The memories of his lone connection to Ohio State came flooding back to Tony Skinn as soon as he walked into Value City Arena.

In-depth coverage:Former coaches praise pending Ohio State hire Tony Skinn's abilities

He just couldn’t really talk about them. Officially announced Thursday morning as the newest assistant on coach Chris Holtmann’s staff, Skinn had gotten his college coaching career underway with Louisiana Tech for the 2015-16 season. In his four game as an assistant with the Bulldogs, they came to Columbus and never trailed in an eight-point win against the Buckeyes on November 24, 2015.

“Getting back in that arena definitely brought back some memories – I just didn’t want to say it around anybody is all,” Skinn told The Dispatch. “That was probably one of our best wins, if not the best win, while I spent my three years at Louisiana Tech. It’s no knock to Ohio State: we were just the better team that day and guys came with the no-nonsense attitude and got it done.”

It’s a similar approach that has led Skinn to Ohio State. After spending the last three years at Seton Hall, Skinn said he was looking forward to helping longtime coach Kevin Willard respond to a 14-13 record last season when he got a message. Holtmann had lost veteran assistant coach Terry Johnson to Purdue in late April and his search for a replacement led him to, among other names, Skinn.

As he conducted the search, Holtmann said Skinn came highly recommended from contacts at all levels of the sport.

“He has developed a reputation in his coaching career as being a tremendous worker, he’s detailed oriented, builds excellent relationships with players and is an outstanding recruiter,” Holtmann said in a statement. “He has strong ties in the DC Metro area and has worked with some highly successful high school, AAU and college programs. We can’t wait for him to get started.”

It was an opportunity Skinn said he couldn’t pass up, especially as the communication led to an in-person and, late last week, an official job offer.

“What’s the possibilities of going to Ohio State?” Skinn said of his initial reaction to Holtmann’s interest. “You’re talking about a program that’s a top-10 program from top to bottom. I don’t job chase … It happened fast, but at the same time there was a process.”

Skinn said he’s familiar with some parts of the Ohio State roster, specifically mentioning E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr., last year’s two leading scorers who are pursuing their NBA draft stock while retaining their collegiate eligibility. His immediate to-do list begins with working to build relationships with the current roster, learning the program’s terminology and assimilating onto a staff that also includes Jake Diebler and Ryan Pedon.

Plus, coaches will be allowed to resume in-person recruiting in June, and the Buckeyes are scheduled to have at least one recruit on campus each day that month.

“I’m a basketball junkie,” he said. “Elite programs, you watch them over time and know it’s the highest level, Ohio State being one of them. I knew a little bit about the team personnel-wise, but if you get that phone call from Ohio State you’re just going to have to figure the rest out as fast as you can and that’s what transpired for me.”

While at Seton Hall, Skinn was a member of Coaches For Action, a group of Big East assistant coaches using their platform to educate and bring awareness to issues of social justice. The Big Ten does not have a comparable organization among its men’s basketball coaches, but Skinn said it’s something he’d be interested in helping get started.

“I don’t think the message goes away,” he said. “It’s a conversation that should never really stop, but if presented with the opportunity there is something pertaining more to the Big Ten or whatever it is, if I have the opportunity I definitely will be open to it.”