Native Minnesotan Taison Chatman ready to make impact at Ohio State

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

How could Taison Chatman not hear the questions?

It was only a few weeks before his senior season that the combo guard at Fridley (Minnesota) Totino-Grace announced his college decision. A childhood fan of the nearby Golden Gophers, Chatman became the final member of a four-man recruiting class elsewhere in the Big Ten. So as the four-star guard went through a senior season that culminated with a second consecutive state championship while the Buckeyes suffered their most losses in 25 years, Chatman would hear the wondering.

Why are you still planning to go to a rival school enduring such a difficult season? Chatman said he’d hear it in some form or another, be it from people at school or in interviews. And every time, his answer remained the same as it was when he picked the Buckeyes.

“I said this before: I trust coach (Chris) Holtmann and the rest of the staff with my future and I really think Ohio State is the best place for me, so I wouldn’t switch,” Chatman said.

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In roughly a month and a half, Chatman will join the rest of the 2023-24 Buckeyes on campus and begin the process of trying to get the program back into the NCAA Tournament after a 16-19 season. He will be part of a youthful backcourt led by second-year guards Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle alongside sixth-year Baylor transfer Dale Bonner, a recent addition via the portal.

All four will play significant minutes for the Buckeyes, who are likely to utilize three-guard lineups in an effort to play with more tempo and defensive versatility. A 6-4, 175-pound guard, Chatman will play off the ball but also will have some responsibilities at the point in his first season. There will be a learning curve, as Thornton and Gayle found out last season, but Chatman said he’s expecting that.

“It’ll be good to learn behind guys that have experience,” Chatman said. “Bruce, he came in and starred as a freshman last year. I think they can all help through the process of freshman year. Coach (Jake) Diebler has been telling me how it’s a hard year. He said it’s going to be my hardest year of basketball and I’ve just got to work through it and use my resources.”

Taison Chatman, a guard from Minneapolis Totino-Grace, took an official visit to Ohio State during the weekend of Sept. 2, 2022.

Diebler, Ohio State’s associate head coach, was Chatman’s primary recruiter. During the season, Chatman said he’d talk regularly with both Holtmann and Diebler and that they consistently had the same message even as the losses were piling up: this was a learning experience for everyone in the program, nothing is given and nothing is going to be easy.

As he prepares for his arrival, Chatman said he’s working out two or three times a day to try and get his body as physically ready as possible for what lies ahead.

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“I want to come to college in shape so that way in the summer I’m not falling behind or anything,” he said. “Coming in shape, that’s a big thing for me, and trying to build muscle too. I think physicality’s going to be the hardest part of the transition for me so I think if I can start now it’ll help me.”

Chatman was slowed throughout the season by a knee injury suffered last summer, and it wasn’t until March that he said he felt physically and mentally fully healthy. It didn’t prevent him from helping the Eagles repeat as championships, earning their second-ever state title in the process. He averaged around 12 points a game.

Taison Chatman, Devin Royal, Austin Parks and Chris Holtmann (L-R) pose before Ohio State's game against Notre Dame at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 3, 2022. ranks Chatman as the No. 31 national recruit, the No. 7 combo guard and the top prospect from his home state. ESPN ranks him No. 45 nationally, and both list him as a four-star prospect. Ohio State's class is ranked No. 7 nationally by 247Sports.

“Man, I’m excited,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work. I’ve been wanting to play college basketball since I was little. It’s kind of like a dream come true. I’m just ready to work.”

Although his high school is a 13-mile drive from Minnesota’s home court, Chatman will be united with someone who has a more direct connection to the Golden Gophers. After two seasons playing for his home-state school, forward Jamison Battle has transferred from Minnesota to Ohio State for his final season of college basketball.

The two played for the same AAU program, albeit years apart. They’ll get their chance against the Gophers, too, as Ohio State is expected to play at Williams Arena this year after only getting Minnesota in Columbus last year.

“It’ll be cool to play together next year,” Chatman said. “He’s ready to work. I feel like everyone’s ready to work. I think we’ve got a big season coming up. I think that’s the best mindset to have.”


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