Men’s Basketball: ‘A chance to advance’: Owens embraces new opportunity

Men’s Basketball: ‘A chance to advance’: Owens embraces new opportunity

Assistant coach Jack Owens speaks to the media on June 15. Credit: Jacob Benge | Math Editor

Jack Owens’ career as a basketball coach spans over two decades, and his experience in Ohio State will only grow.

He has spent the past five seasons as head coach for Miami (Ohio) and more than 10 years as an assistant coach for other programs. Owens will retake an assistant role at Ohio State, where he said people and players caught his interest.

Owens said he was intrigued by the player’s development on the Buckeyes, and sophomore guard Malaki Branham and young forward EJ Liddell — who expected their names to be called during Thursday’s NBA draft — are two notable examples.

“You see from a development point of view, Malaki, EJ, the opportunities they will have,” Owens said. “I hope these guys can recruit and get great, great jobs.”

Branham showed his rapid rise in the conference particularly during the latter half of last season, as he scored 35 points in Nebraska on January 2 and began his run to win the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Exceeding expectations and moving into the professional arena, Owens said the growth of a player like Branham “resonates in the minds of potential players considering Ohio State.

“He’s here, what, 10 months? He has a chance to be a draft pick in the NBA,” Owens said. “Obviously, he put in the hard work, and the staff here have done a fantastic job developing and getting to a point where he will be a draft pick on the tour. First. I think that says a lot about the program.”

Join Buckeyes April 2Owens will get the opportunity to influence players within the program directly according to his philosophy and ideas.

Owens said he relies on mentors such as Boilermakers coach Matt Pinter and former Butler and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens as well as Ricky Samuels, a former college coach in Eastern Illinois, during his training journey.

“You always want to surround yourself with good people,” Owens said. “Now that I’m going to face Purdue, it might be a little different facing Coach Pinter and these guys, but at the end of the day we all want to win.”

Coach Chris Holtman also sparked Owens’ interest in the Ohio State program, noting that he had already noticed that “everyone is on the same page” on the coaching staff.

Owens said his history as a college basketball player will help him connect with the new faces he’ll become more familiar with over the course of the vacation, drawing on Holtman’s wisdom to build relationships.

“I think he has a great relationship with every youngster, and it’s very important for a coach to have a relationship with his players,” Owens said. At the same time, they trust him. That’s why they’re here, so I think he’s doing a great job with those relationships with every guy.”

Having competed in 11 NCAA tournaments, Owens knows the path to take to reach the post-season and day-to-day requirements of the regular season.

Although his job title is “Assistant” rather than “Coach,” Owens said he doesn’t see that as a step back. Instead, he said he hopes to tap Ohio State’s potential to help take the Buckeyes to new heights.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for a coach like me or potentially to come here and have the opportunity to be here in Ohio State,” Owens said. “I think we have a chance to put ourselves in a position to win the Big Ten, go to the NCAA Championship and have a chance to advance in the NCAA Championship, for sure.”

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