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Two-Minute Drill: Jake Diebler, Bruce Thornton, Meechie Johnson Jr. Talk Summer Workouts

COLUMBUS, Ohio —Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Jake Diebler met with the media on Thursday to comment on Taison Chatman’s injury and provide updates on the team as they go through summer workouts. Buckeye guards Bruce Thornton and Meechie Johnson Jr. also answered questions from reporters.

Here is a summary of what was said. You can also watch the full press conferences below.

Jake Diebler 

+ His heart breaks for Taison Chatman because he didn’t get to have the year he wanted and they wanted for him last year but there’s encouraging news that while this is the same knee, it is not a complication from the last injury. It was a basketball injury and it will be a long recovery but he has great support around him. He will be around the program consistently. With the vets being in town, E.J. Liddell got to speak to him and that was really powerful.

+ On Chatman’s injury and the impact on the roster, Diebler said depth is still a strength for them but they are evaluating what that means from a standpoint of whether there are additions they need to make there. It doesn’t impact the overall depth of this team, but it questions it.

+ He wants to play more ball handlers so they can play faster. The younger players have been planned to be involved more from the start but Chatman being out opens a lot of opportunities for others to expand their game.

+ On the veterans being involved in the summer workouts, Diebler said it’s impactful and powerful for the veteran players to be training with them and then coaching them. They are echoing what the coaches are saying and that helps them. There was “a list of eras covered” the last few days. It speaks to the Ohio State basketball family and they got to see and feel how special it was.

+ They are evaluating the portal. The coaches feel they have a good thing going and don’t want to rush into something but they are evaluating that.

+ There is healthy competition on this route for time. The roles aren’t defined yet and he loves the fact that they have competition across the board.

+ On having Meechie Johnson Jr. back, Diebler said his growth as a man and a leader is different than when he came in as a freshman. He is still the same fun, loving, hard-working man, but he has grown and matured. “I’ve been really impressed with his consistency.” He and Bruce [Thornton] will bring a lot to the backcourt and they will drive the team all season.

Bruce Thornton 

+ On playing with Meechie Johnson Jr., Thornton said when he found out, he was excited, especially after losing Roddy Gayle Jr. who played next to him. Johnson Jr. was his host when he was on his visit to Ohio State, so it all came full circle now that he is back and Thornton is still here.

+ On what this backcourt can be, Thornton said they are coming in and working to install the Ohio State standard. They’ve had pieces in the past but now they have what they need to make it happen.

+ On being the last player in his recruiting class still at Ohio State, Thornton said he still keeps in contact with all of the people he came in with because they will be with him forever. But he hasn’t reached the goals he wants to reach at Ohio State. He has belief in Diebler and they believe they can “turn this thing around.” He wants to prove to himself and Buckeye Nation that Ohio State basketball is the real deal.

+ On his focus this offseason, Thornton said he wants to be better defensively and guarding off the ball. He also wants to work on closing games as a leader, both with his voice and on the court.

+ On being around the veteran players, Thornton said the goal is to get to the league so he soaked in all of their information and asked questions. The veterans coaching and playing with them was very good for the team because they saw the levels to the game and they competed.

+ Johnson Jr. is an explosive scorer, he can go on a run on his own and he’s an underrated playmaker. Thornton has learned from him because Johnson Jr. has been to the tournament every year.

+ Even when he is working out, he tries to do nothing by himself. He wants to build chemistry with this team.

Meechie Johnson Jr. 

+ On being back at Ohio State and the culture, Johnson Jr. said it’s been a blessing being back and he is honored to be welcomed back. It has been great with the team and the energy and culture of being at Ohio State and what it means, he can feel it everyday. “It’s about winning and that’s where we’re headed.”

+ They feel they can be one of the best backcourts in the country this year.

+ One of the reasons he came to Ohio State was to be able to play with a great guard like Bruce Thornton. He was sad to see Taison Chatman go down and he feels for him.

+ On his first time at Ohio State, Johnson Jr. said it wasn’t going the way he wanted. He was sad leaving and it ultimately wasn’t his decision to leave but to be able to come back meant everything. He wanted to come play with a good guard and win. He is excited for what’s ahead.

+ There will be times when Thornton will be on the ball and times he will be off the ball. The same is true with his game. He and Thornton want to be versatile, play both, and they can do that together well.

+ On what he learned at South Carolina, Johnson Jr. said he learned so much about himself as a man. He also proved that he was a winner, but he wants to build it here.

Photo via Ohio State Dept. of Athletics. 

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