When the hiring of Chris Jent as an assistant coach on the Ohio State basketball team was made official earlier today, it was a long time coming.
While rumors surfaced that Jent would return to Thad Matta's staff after spending the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons on Ohio State staff shortly after Jeff Boals was hired to be the new head coach at Stony Brook University, Matta had Jent in mind long before that. As in years before.
“I think, Chris and I talked a couple Summers ago, I said, ‘If this NBA thing doesn’t work I would love to have you back in some capacity, in some form,’" Matta said. "A few months later they got let go there in Sacramento, last year being a D-League coach was a great thing for Chris, he loved it, but when the opportunity arose and Jeff got involved I talked to him and he said without a doubt I’ll be back, just let me know."
Jent, who shot 38.2 percent and scored 8.2 points per game when he played at Ohio State from 1988-92, helped the Buckeyes to a 60-16 record in his most recent stint with Ohio State before he left to coach in the NBA. He joined Mike Malone's staff as an assistant for the Sacramento Kings for the 2013-14 season, but lost that position when Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Most recently, Jent coached for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Developmental league.
In addition to his coaching experience and time as a player in Columbus, Matta said he valued Jent's multitude of experiences as a professional player. As a forward he spent part of the 1994 season with the Houston Rockets and part of the 1997 season with the New York Knicks. Much of his professional career was spent overseas or in the Continental Basketball Association.
When Jent was last in Columbus he was an offensive coach for Matta and is known for his technical instruction, having served as the personal shooting coach of Lebron James. Matta said he was unsure exactly how coaching responsibilities will shake out with Jent on the staff. Greg Paulus coordinated the offense for the Buckeyes last season while Boals handled defensive responsibilities.
"Chris has a great basketball mind," Matta said. "He likes offense, he likes the skill instruction, that sort of thing. But Chris is also a guy that will do whatever we need him to do, but I think from the standpoint of getting him back in and looking at the guys and seeing what his thoughts are. I’ve kind of given him a rap sheet in terms of my thoughts on guys in terms of what they have to do, what they need to get better on. So he’ll kind of take it from there and run with us.”
Matta has been hoping Jent would be running with the Buckeyes again for a while now.