Buckeyes notebook: Chris Holtman's 'drip,' E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young's returns and more
INDIANAPOLIS – His own press conference was scheduled to start, but Chris Holtmann had a few questions of his own.
With tables scattered around the court at Gainbridge Fieldhouse featuring Big Ten coaches and players from both men’s and women’s basketball, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young were 10 minutes into their half-hour slot when an extra-interested observer approached from the back of the crowd. Clad in a suit, the man identified himself as “Chris Holt, Columbus News,” and addressed a question to Young.
“Kyle, could you talk about the crazy swag and style of your head coach?” he asked.
Ohio State men's basketball:One week in, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann watching for continued growth
With a laugh and a smile, Young addressed the question posed by his not-so-incognito coach.
“Yeah, I can,” he said. “We’ve had a few different interviews today where that’s got brought up. I think me and E.J. both commented on coach Holt’s drip, not just on the court but off the court. We see him walking into the gym and he’s always got some new kicks on and he’s always got an icy suit on.”
The bit didn’t stop there, and Holtmann put Liddell on the spot. Raising his hand for a follow-up, Holtmann asked the returning first-team all-Big Ten forward a loaded question: “E.J., could you talk about what you like least about your coach?”
“Ooh, you’ve got to be careful bro,” Young said to his teammate.
After thinking it over, Liddell turned to flattery.
“He doesn’t get me hip to his fashion style,” Liddell said. “I wish I had the same as him, because he has drip.”
Then Holtmann moved on, headed for his own press conference three tables away.
Kyle Young, E.J. Liddell and returning to Ohio State
Both Ohio State players were representing their school after exploring opportunities to move on following the 2020-21 season. Liddell entered his name into the NBA draft process, while Young considered starting his professional career before deciding to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to all players.
Now spokesmen for the Buckeyes, Liddell credited Young for helping him get to this stage.
“When I came in my freshman year, Kyle showed me the ropes,” Liddell, entering his third season, said. “Being here today is really awesome. I feel like I carry myself as one of the people who should represent a team. I feel like the lifestyle we’ve built around this team is basically what I looked up to.”
Each has represented Ohio State on the cover of a regional preseason college basketball magazine: Liddell on Lindy’s and Young on Athlon’s. Both said it’s the first time they have been featured on a magazine cover.
“It’s a surreal feeling when you see yourself on there because it’s something you’ve dreamt of, being recognized and getting to the position where we are today,” Young said. “I think we’re both super blessed to be on those covers.”
Once Young decided to return to Ohio State, he said he remained in contact with Liddell and gently encouraged him to do the same.
“After I decided I was coming back, I wanted him to come back for sure so it can hopefully be a special year for the both of us,” Young said. “I’m hoping to be remembered as somebody people think about when they talk about Buckeye basketball.”
Liddell teams up with Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson
As part of his decision-making process, Liddell was invited to the NBA’s G-League combine during the summer. There, he was placed on a team that also included Hunter Dickinson and Chaundee Brown.
Just like that: Buckeyes and Wolverines, playing together.
“I never expected to be on the same team as two Michigan players at one time,” Liddell said.
The teams met twice during the season, with Michigan winning at Ohio State and the Buckeyes knocking the Wolverines out of the Big Ten tournament. Throughout, Liddell and Dickinson battled in the paint before both being named first-team all-conference.
Now, the two have a mutual appreciation for each other. When they got to the combine, it was a different story.
“I wasn’t a big fan of Hunter when we first played him,” Liddell said, refusing to say Michigan one more time. “He was setting hard screens on our guards and whatnot. We went to the combine and hung out, had a couple meals together since we were on the same team. He’s a cool dude. Sitting with him, getting to know him behind the scenes was cool.”