Ohio State Men’s Basketball News: Buckeyes Meet with the Media, Season getting closer

By Danielle Daniels

September 25, 2023


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Holtmann Media Day Press Conference


Chris Holtmann on Media Day 2023-24 (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Members of the 125th team of Ohio State men’s basketball met with the media on Monday during the team’s media day, kicking off the 2023-24 season. Practice will officially begin on Wednesday.

Following a team photo, the players met with the media for 45 minutes and then head coach Chris Holtmann held a season-opening press conference.

Development over the offseason, using what happened last year as motivation and how the new players have adjusted were among the many topics that were discussed. See quotes are below.

The program is also celebrating 125 years this season and will honor its milestones and former players and coaches throughout the season.

The team will wear a commemorative patch on its uniforms and the program will honor different eras at various games throughout the year. A commemorative bobblehead set will also be given away over the course of the season. More details on the complete promotional schedule will be announced soon.

The Buckeyes open practice this Wednesday in preparation for its exhibition game at Dayton on Sunday, October 22. The regular season opens on Monday, Nov. 6 against Oakland.

Roddy Gayle Jr. (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Sophomore guard Roddy Gayle Jr.:

What it means for OSU basketball to be back:

“Ohio State has been put on a pedestal, especially in the Big Ten and throughout the country, for sports like basketball and football. So, I feel like last year was a disappointment. We didn’t reach that kind of mark that we thought we would, so I feel like this year it starts now. We have the kind of talent and personnel to really make a change.”

Lessons he took from Big Ten Tournament:

“Staying patient. It took me all year to really get to shine and be the kind of player that I know I am. I feel like just being patient and always trusting the process is a key component of what college basketball is.”

Where he feels the most improved from last year:

“Handling the ball and becoming a leader is where I think I took my most dramatic steps.  I feel like I’ve done an outstanding job of being able to show the guys who weren’t here last year, kind of showing them the way of Ohio State Basketball.”

“I’ve become more of a perimeter player. You can rely on your athleticism in high school, but you just can’t really do that at this level. So, I feel like just me being able to shoot the three and me being able to make reads off the pick and roll and stuff are two areas in which I’ve improved.”

On the team playing faster:

“I feel like during our summer workouts, we’ve definitely done a great job of really playing in transition. I feel like we want to play faster. We really want to defend the ball really well this year.”

Bruce Thornton (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Freshman point guard Bruce Thornton:

What he wants to do with the team as a leader:

“There’s a lot of responsibility to not have the season that we had last year. And I’m going to show everybody and I’m going to prove to everybody that the team is not about that. I feel like we’re going to have a winning season, win a lot of big games and go to the dance, and do a lot of things people don’t see us doing.”

What he learned from his freshman season:

“Using my voice early. I feel like we didn’t know a lot. We didn’t know as freshmen, but now I got it under my belt, got the confidence and got comfortable with Roddy, Felix and the other starters.”

How he can help the freshmen acclimate to Holtmann:

“They’re going to have to learn fast because I know on the first day, coach is going to be on 10. But that’s Ohio State, that’s how we want to be known as how we play.”

Zed Key (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Senior forward Zed Key 

On taking a leadership role:
“It’s been an adjustment. Last year had its ups and downs of being an actual true leader for our team. There were some struggles and (I am) learning from last year, building on that and getting better. Every day is a new day to learn.”

On his shoulder injury:  

“It’s good. It’s 100%. It feels good, it feels stable. Basically, like it did before the injury.”

On goals this year after a challenging last season:  

 “Same goals, to win championships. We’re using (last year) as fuel to be better this year. Definitely going to light a fire for us this year.

Scotty Middleton (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Freshman guard Scotty Middleton 

On why he chose Ohio State:  

 “The family atmosphere when people say, you’re always a Buckeye, they really mean it.”

On his excitement for the season:  

 “I’m really excited. We have a lot of new pieces and a lot of returning guys, so just pulling that together and seeing what we can do.

Jamison Battle (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Graduate guard Jamison Battle

On what was the deciding factor that turned Ohio State into a real possibility this offseason:

“The interest. You want to go where you’re wanted, and I felt the one school that really wanted me throughout this process was Ohio State. I think that when you go to where you’re wanted, and you go where you’re going to be pushed, and challenged, it’s a recipe for success. So I think that’s why ultimately I came here to be a Buckeye.”

Felix Okpara (courtesy OSU Athletic Communications)

Sophomore center Felix Okpara:

On what he’s been able to accomplish over the offseason:

“Over the offseason, I’ve got pretty strong and gained 20-25 pounds of muscle. Practicing three to four times a week and getting used to the new weight and jumping on the weight.”

On how much of a leap he thinks the team will be able to take:

“We’ve definitely talked about it a lot. What we do every day is push each other to get better. Whether it’s coming to the gym together, getting up shots together, or working out together. After last year, we knew that this year was going to be our year.”