Ohio State assistant Tony Skinn settling in after 'whirlwind' first month

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Tony Skinn, center, started his coaching career at Louisiana Tech, where he was part of their team's 82-74 victory over Ohio State on Nov. 24, 2015.

One month has officially passed since Tony Skinn first walked into Value City Arena as an official member of the Ohio State men’s basketball coaching staff.

The former Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech assistant coach is still looking for a place for his family to live, but even if he had succeeded in that endeavor, Skinn likely wouldn’t have spent much time there. As he has started to acclimate himself to the program, its players and the dozens of recruits that have been visiting campus this month, Skinn described the process as a whirlwind that is starting to feel more familiar each day.

“I’m excited to be here,” Skinn said Thursday morning at the arena. “We’re all excited to get back to some normalcy. It’s been non-stop, man. It’s been pretty much 30 days straight.”

A native of the Washington, D.C., area, Skinn played collegiately at George Mason before an overseas professional career, which was cut short due to injury. He began his collegiate coaching career at Louisiana Tech during the 2015-16 season, in which he helped the Bulldogs to an 82-74 win at Ohio State, and spent three years there before taking an assistant coaching job at Seton Hall.

Now he has joined Chris Holtmann’s staff as the replacement for Terry Johnson, who took a similar job at Purdue. He came to Columbus as a highly regarded coach from outside Holtmann’s coaching tree or the traditional Big Ten footprint. Skinn said his recruiting duties, alongside native Ohioans Ryan Pedon and Jake Diebler, will include his territory back home as well as closer to campus.

“I’m not going to limit myself to what I know,” he said. “I’m not going to be the assistant coach who says, ‘These other two (assistants) know the lay of the land a little bit better than me so I’m gonna sit back.’ I’m gonna try to learn, I’m gonna try to build relationships with those guys.”

Upon landing the job, Skinn said he sent text messages to NBA hopefuls E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr., both of whom have declared for the draft while keeping their eligibility intact. The messages were to introduce himself, Skinn said, not to pressure either of them to make a decision one way or another.

After both players appeared at the NBA G League Elite Camp, Washington was selected for the NBA’s full draft combine while Liddell was not. Both players have until July 7 to decide if they would like to return to Ohio State. Washington appears to be more likely than Liddell to turn professional given his play at the combine, and indications are that his invitation to the combine makes it less likely he will return for another season with the Buckeyes.

In speaking about the potential for this year’s team, Skinn said, “Having guys like E.J. hopefully coming back and some of the guys that are now going to have the opportunity to step up, I think it’s trending up and we’ve got a chance to be really good.”

Skinn’s exact coaching role will be determined in the coming months, he said. Right now, he’s been primarily working with three players: Justin Ahrens, Gene Brown III and Jimmy Sotos.

“Jimmy’s a high-level shooter,” he said, noting that the fifth-year Bucknell transfer recently broke a practice shooting record. “Obviously Justin is, as well. (I’m) getting a chance to know those guys, and Eugene as well.”

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Ohio State, Xavier to play in Gavitt Games

For the first time since Ron Lewis' famous shot in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes and Xavier will face each other when they participate in the Gavitt Games at the Cintas Center on Nov. 18.

It will be the fifth meeting between the two programs and only the third since the 1930s. Ohio State leads the series 3-1 and is 4-0 in the Gavitt Games, which annually pits eight Big Ten and Big East schools against each other.

The remainder of Ohio State's non-conference schedule is expected to be released within the next week or two.