Ohio State coach Chris Holtman made what could be viewed as an under-the-radar hire on Wednesday when he added Nick Kellogg to his staff as an assistant to the head coach/director of scouting. While Kellogg’s father, Clark, is certainly a familiar name to Buckeye fans as a Scarlet and Gray Athletics Hall of Famer, Nick was probably a bit more of a mystery.
Like some of the other assistants Holtmann has hired – specifically ryan peton and Jake Diebler – Kellogg has a connection with Ohio State. The most obvious is his father de él, who played for the Buckeyes from 1979-82, but Kellogg also grew up in Columbus, rooting for the Scarlet and Gray, and played high school basketball at St. Francis DeSales.
“It feels incredible,” Kellogg said while speaking to the local media for the first time on Thursday. “Ever since I graduated (college) in ’14 I haven’t lived in Columbus since then really. I’ve been overseas, I’ve been back for two, three months in the summer and then back off to the next team. To be back, it feels great to be close to my family and friends and obviously to represent an outstanding university and be a Buckeye and wear the scarlet and gray, it feels really good.”
While he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and play for Ohio State, Kellogg didn’t go far. He was a four-year letterman at Ohio University, where he was actually recruited to Athens by Holtmann when he was an assistant coach to John Groce.
During his senior year playing for the Bobcats, Kellogg took the court at Value City Arena in a 79-69 loss to the Buckeyes. While his team from him did n’t come away with a victory, Kellogg tied for the leading scorer in the game with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and five rebounds.
Kellogg was back on that court on Thursday before meeting with the media, working with freshman shooting guard Roddy Gayle Jr. And while he will help the players with their game and do whatever the other coaches need, Holtmann envisioned Kellogg in a bit of a different role.
“I think the big piece that coach Holtmann and I talked about was just building a relationship with the guys,” Kellogg explained. “Being around the guys as much as I can, developing that relationship, developing that trust and respect to kind of help guide them and be a sounding board for them as well. And that’s the part that I really want to bring to the program.”
Aside from his connections to Ohio State and Columbus, Kellogg’s experience makes him a perfect candidate for the job as Holtmann pictured it.
During his time at OU, the Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament twice, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2012. Given the Buckeyes are yet to reach the second weekend of March Madness under Holtmann, and the pressure grows to make a Sweet Sixteen appearance with each passing year, having someone who knows what it takes to get there on staff is important.
Additionally, Kellogg spent the last two seasons as a video coordinator for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was apart of Mike Budenholzer’s staff that won the NBA title in 2021, so he has seen what it takes to win at the highest level of the sport.
“FFirst of all, it’s just about making sure that they understand that it’s hard,” Kellogg said of making deeper NCAA Tournament runs and winning championships. “It’s hard work, it’s hard to do. A lot of things have to happen. You have to all be on the same page. Everybody has to be pulling their weight. You’ve got to have complete buy-in from the staff and from each other as players.
“So there’s a lot of moving parts to that. But ultimately, I just want to let them know that it is hard work. And if it’s something they want to do, you have to commit to it every day. It’s about again, the prep and it’s about the details to get to that level and to win ultimately at the highest level. So that’s something I can definitely attest to from being a player and from being on the other side of it as an organization when I was with the Bucks.”
While the Scarlet and Gray players want to be successful during their time in college and win as much as possible, they also have bigger goals. Once their time at Ohio State is done, each player that becomes a Buckeye has dreams of playing professional basketball, be it in the NBA or overseas.
While Kellogg didn’t make it to the NBA after his time at Ohio University, he did play five seasons in Europe before returning home once the COVID pandemic hit and electing to begin his coaching career.
It is all of these experiences in the basketball world that Kellogg hopes to bring to the Ohio State program and why he was the perfect fit for the position.
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“I just think first and foremost, my experience as a player, being in these guys’ shoes at one point in time,” Kellogg said. “I think that’s a tremendous asset and it’s something that I can bring and to help kind of guide them and let them know and relate with them that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be a college athlete. And again, also with my professional experience overseas and seeing different parts of the world, that’s just another perspective that I can kind of give to them.
“And then being at the NBA level is something. The things I saw there and the experience I gained there I think will be extremely beneficial for some of these guys to hear about and to kind of learn from. So those are kind of the things that I’m gonna lean into as I continue to work with them and participate with practice and things like that.”