Ohio State commitment Bowen Hardman reflects on official campus visit: 'It was breathtaking'

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Bowen Hardman attended Ohio State's home football game against Cincinnati on Sept. 7.

The official visit had been a long time coming for Bowen Hardman.

More than a year had come and gone since the Cincinnati Princeton guard had issued his verbal commitment to Ohio State for its 2022 recruiting class, which made the chance to take his first official visit to his future home all the more meaningful. On June 11, Hardman finally got another firsthand look at the Buckeyes program he committed to in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The visit left an impression.

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“It was breathtaking,” Hardman said. “It was amazing just to get back on campus. Every time you step foot there it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”

A three-star guard in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, the 6-5, 160-pound Hardman committed to the Buckeyes in May 2020. He had toured the campus on an unofficial visit the previous fall, when he took in a football game and accepted Ohio State's scholarship offer, but the subsequent recruiting pause during the pandemic meant he hadn’t been back in nearly a year and a half.

There was a lot of catching up to do, not only with coach Chris Holtmann but with newly hired assistant coach Tony Skinn and the rest of the coaching staff. Time was at a premium, because at least one recruit has been on campus each day in June.

“It was kind of hard to sit down with every single coach, but I was really happy to be able to sit with (Tony) and talk about everything,” Hardman said. “You enjoy those moments because you want coaches who are really upfront with you and really real, and they are.”

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That included feedback on his potential role when he arrives at Ohio State as well as areas for growth during his senior season. Hardman said he’s been adding a driving element to his game to complement his shooting ability, something that has started paying dividends during AAU ball. The coaching staff talked with him about growing defensively, he noted. They also discussed him getting stronger and more physical while also increasing his overall court awareness.

They also discussed the recent changes to name, image and likeness rules.

“As much as we’re learning about it, the coaches and staff are, too,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of great things that come out of it and great opportunities for college players.”

As a junior, he averaged 15.1 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 37.3% (40 for 107) from three-point range. He’s the No. 170 national recruit and the No. 5 prospect from Ohio, according to 247Sports.

“The offense, they’re not worried at all because (they feel I’m) very skilled offensively with shooting and being able to drive and compete,” he said. “With the defensive part, they said they’ve seen a really good improvement with me in this AAU season and just growing into my body, gaining more weight and getting stronger.”

His host was ostensibly second-year guard Gene Brown III, but Hardman said he spent most of his time hanging out, not only with Brown, but also with his roommates Meechie Johnson Jr. and Zed Key Jr.

“We’re all goofballs so we’re all having fun, cracking jokes,” he said. “We were able to watch a bunch of NBA games and play card games and go through the campus and just have fun. I know a lot of those guys really well. For me to sit back with them and have fun and see how well they are together and see how they have a bond, a friendship, is really huge. It grew on me a little bit like, ‘Dang, I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to be here and play with these guys.’

That was a highlight for Hardman, as was a full-on photoshoot that featured him wearing a gray Ohio State jersey with the number 0.

“I was able to take a couple pictures when I was there my sophomore year, but it wasn’t as crazy,” he said. “It’s cool. We really got to do some fun poses.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy