Holden supports work ethic throughout Ohio

Ohio State senior guard Tanner Holden (0) will look to bring experience to a young Ohio State team following his transfer from Wright State. Credit: Zachary Rilley | photo editor

More than 100 miles away in Wheelersburg, Ohio, senior guard Tanner Holden felt the Buckeye culture his entire childhood.

The Wright State transfer said it was surreal to wear a Buckeye uniform after growing up a Marshall fan, as it was the alma mater of his parents, Rodney and Tammy Holden.

“I don’t think I’ve really absorbed it yet,” Tanner Holden said. “You know, just being able to train, being able to wear the shirt today, it’s just great. It’s just such a big leap, but I’m super excited.

Holden averaged 20.1 points on 49.7% from the field and ranked in the top 15 in Division I in total points, field goals and free throws in his final season with the Raiders. He added an average of 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.

Holden said he hoped to have a similar role with the Buckeyes as the Raiders, but said the biggest difference he found was in the physique. He said his background as a former Mr. Football candidate in Ohio — receiving a football offer from Ohio State — helped him become more aggressive.

“Sometimes you get hit a little harder than expected,” Holden said. “I think, you know, the Big Ten is definitely a step up physically from the Horizon League last year.”

Holden said that although he didn’t think about transferring during his time at Wright State, his 37-point performance against Bryant in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March put his name “on the map.”

Holden said Columbus was close enough to home for friends and family to see him play.

“I just had to go home after the tournament loss to Arizona to talk to my family, my friends, my girlfriend,” Holden said. “You know, we just thought it was the best decision for me.”

Holden said he transitioned seamlessly into Buckeye basketball because he didn’t feel a lot of pressure as a new member of the team.

“We’re all kind of connected – it’s kind of crazy, it’s one of the tightest bands I’ve ever been in,” Holden said. “We do a lot of things together, you know, when we’re in the locker room, talking after practice, training together, so I feel like, you know, we just bond in a way consistent.”

Holden said he became particularly close to redshirt freshman forward Kalen Etzler because he played with Javin Etzler — Kalen Etzler’s older brother — in high school.

“[Kalen Etzler’s] a funny guy,” Holden said. “He is very light, a very hard worker. He pushes me, I push him, you know, we have a great bond like that.

Kalen Etzler said he was both happy and shocked to see Holden commit to Ohio State and noted Holden’s great work ethic.

“He’s a super hard worker and his engine is crazy; like, he never gets tired,” Kalen Etzler said. “If you watch any of his Wright State game movies, you can see he plays 40 minutes a game, without getting tired. He always cuts hard and does what he has to do on defense.

Junior forward Zed Key said Holden, as one of the older players, has shown leadership through hard work and communication since arriving from Wright State.

“People, even freshmen, look up to him,” Key said. “He played college basketball, so you know he’s definitely a leader in his own way.”

Head coach Chris Holtmann said Holden is becoming a leader and is loved by his teammates.

“He’s an everyday guy,” Holtmann said. “He was, once again, one of our most consistent workers. You know, guys don’t respect guys who don’t work. And he’s really respected in our dressing room because he works. And I think that’s going to allow him to have a voice in the locker room, you know, whatever that looks like as a new player.

Holtmann also said Holden is a very good athlete and a “tremendous cutter” but will need to expand his game to shoot more than 3-pointers. Additionally, Holtmann called Holden a “really good bouncy guard and wing.”

Holden said he was excited to start the season and compete in an NCAA tournament with a new team.

“You know, just athletically they’re still top 15 teams in the country,” Holden said. “They do tournaments. You know, that’s definitely one of the big keys. I wanted to be in the tournament, I wanted to win matches in the tournament. And you know, they have guys in the NBA draft. It’s definitely a huge key, you know, they had all the boxes checked.

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