Tanner Holden explains decision to leave Wright State for Ohio State

Credit: Marcus Hartman

Credit: Marcus Hartman

Tanner Holden is getting settled in at Ohio State.

The Wright State transfer told Bucknuts.com he enrolled at his new school this month and has already started working out with the team’s trainer and getting to know some of his new teammates.

He also shed some light on his decision to enter the transfer portal after averaging 20.1 points per game as a junior for the Raiders, including a 37-point outburst in a First Four victory at UD Arena.

“I took a week after our season ended to talk to my family and everybody around me about what I should do and what they thought about it,” Holden told the site. “We put it in God’s hands. That led me to put my name in there to explore and see the options out there.”

Ohio State was among many schools to reach out, and it turns out the Buckeyes had some things working in their favor.

The nutrition and training programs impressed the Wheelersburg native, and he said he felt at home when he visited the campus in Columbus.

“I’m a homebody in general,” Holden said. “I like being where people from my hometown and family and girlfriend can come and watch the games and hang out with me. That was a big part of it.

“Graduating from The Ohio State University and getting a degree from here means so much as an Ohio kid. There was a lot to tie into this place and why I chose here. It’s definitely a great decision. I’m so glad I made the decision to come here. It’s been great so far. I can’t wait until everything officially starts.”

When the team convenes in June for summer workouts, Holden will be part of a significantly different Ohio State basketball roster.

Leading scorers E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham entered the NBA Draft, Justin Ahrens and Meechie Johnson transferred and five others graduated, including key contributors Kyle Young and Jamari Wheeler.

After signing a highly-regarded recruiting class in November, coach Chris Holtmann recruited Holden, former Sinclair standout Sean McNeil and Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele via the transfer portal to make up for the surprise early loss of Branham.

How all the newcomers fit together remains to be seen, but Holden expects to be able to contribute both at shooting guard and small forward while also having the ability to help with ball-handling.

“I think his perimeter skills are good,” Holtmann told reporters in April. “I think he is going to be more of a high volume 3-point shooter here than maybe what he was. That’s an aspect of his game he will have to continue to grow.

“He is an effective, good player. He is versatile in a lot of ways. Obviously being an Ohio kid, we loved that. I’m really excited about Tanner. I think he is really going to help our team.””

Over three seasons at Wright State, Holden grew from role player to All-Horizon League performer, adding things to his game along the way.

“We lost a big part of our scoring (last year),” Holden said. “The coaches told me I needed to be more aggressive and score a little bit. My confidence kind of rose after that. Because I played with so many great players, I was ready for that moment and take on that role. The team this past year, we did a great job of sharing the ball. We were a high-scoring team. I felt I took the right shots. I think that was a big thing.

“I got to the free throw line a lot. I slowly improved my free throw shooting exponentially from my freshman to junior year. Getting to the line was a good place for me to be. I tried to shoot at least six to eight a game. The coaching staff put me in great positions to be successful and the rest of the players helped me out a lot.”

There is also some hope the winning Holden experienced at Wright State — two regular season conference championships and a tournament title — will rub off at an Ohio State program that has not won either of those things in the last nine seasons.

“I want to bring that hunger to this team,” Holden said. “Having that experience last year was an amazing feeling. We won the conference tournament and all of that hard work paid off. We got to stand on that stage with the confetti flying, getting a trophy and getting a ring. All of that stuff is awesome. You know you worked hard for it.

“I definitely want to get a ring here and accomplish big things throughout the season. I think everybody wants the same thing and everybody will be striving for that.”

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