Ohio State basketball commit George Washington III takes in first in-person Buckeyes game

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
George Washington III, a four-star guard from Louisville, poses with Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann while attending the football game against Penn State on Oct. 30.

The Washington family finally found a chance to make it to an Ohio State game. After checking off the basketball schedules for their three boys, they circled Jan. 9 as a chance to see Value City Arena and experience where eldest son George Washington III will play his college basketball.

So Sunday, all five family members made the drive from Louisville, Kentucky, to see the Buckeyes host Northwestern. What they did not see, or rather who, was coach Chris Holtmann and assistant Ryan Pedon. With both Ohio State coaches unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols (they expect to be back for Thursday's game at Wisconsin), Washington III and his family instead got an up-close look at acting head coach Jake Diebler and how the program operates despite missing key pieces.

It left an impression on the four-star point guard in the 2023 class.

“You can just tell their coaching staff is stacked,” Washington said. “Coach Diebler, you can tell by watching him there he knows what he’s doing and the way they’re all communicating. All the guys still bought into him. There was no hesitancy or anything where they were like, ‘This isn’t our coach.’ It was a complete buy-in still. Things still were able to run real smooth.”

Washington said he knew that Pedon wouldn’t be able to coach during the game but that they learned of Holtmann’s absence later.

“I found that out and was like, ‘Wow.’ It’s crazy,” he said. “COVID has made everything about this whole college basketball year weird. Coach Diebler and coach Netti did a great job with the game.”

George Washington III: Ohio State point guards, player-coach interactions garnered commit's particular attention

The trip wasn’t Washington’s first to campus. He took an official visit during the weekend of Oct. 30 and took in a football game against Penn State, but this was his first chance to see a men’s basketball game in person.

Seated behind the Ohio State bench, Washington said he paid particular attention to the team’s point guards.

“You get to see how the coaches interact with the players, the point guards, which obviously is a position I’m looking at really closely to fill in, how they interact with the coaches, with the players,” he said. “It gives you a really close feel to what it’s like being in the game. I really appreciated that. It’s one thing to get that from sitting in multiple practices. It takes another step forward when you’re right there in the game.”

After the game, Washington said he spent time meeting with Diebler and special assistant to the head coach Mike Netti, who helped oversee the offense in Pedon’s absence. He had video chats with Holtmann and Pedon and hung out in the locker room, where he talked to the likes of Malaki Branham, Gene Brown III, Meechie Johnson Jr., E.J. Liddell, Jimmy Sotos and Jamari Wheeler.

Ohio State basketball recruiting:Get to know 2023 Buckeyes commitment George Washington III ranks Washington as the No. 49 national prospect, the No. 2 player from Kentucky and the No. 8 combo guard in the nation in its composite database. He committed to the Buckeyes on Nov. 2, shortly after his official visit. While on campus, Washington said some advice from Clark Kellogg helped him realize that he was ready to commit to the Buckeyes.

His prep team, Christian Academy of Louisville, will take a 13-3 record into a Wednesday game. Washington recently scored a career-high 45 points in an 81-79 win against Bardstown on Jan. 8.

“My scoring has always been a little weird,” he said. “I’ve been high 30s a lot and right under the 40 mark. It was good. I had to beat out my younger brother (Jackson). He had 43 in a game this year.”