When Thad Matta spoke with the media last week about the hiring of Chris Jent to replace the departed Jeff Boals as an assistant on his staff the head coach said it was an easy call for him. Apparently, the decision wasn't difficult for Jent either.
“It was a quick decision. Thad asked me if I would be interested and I immediately said yes," Jent said. "‘I’ll walk there, if you want me to.’ It was a quick decision and I’m just very happy, I feel very much at home. Looking forward to it, for sure.”
Jent coached on Matta's staff from 2011-13, a stretch that saw the Buckeyes go 60-16, and returns to Ohio State after coaching on mike Malone's staff with the Sacramento Kings and serving as the head coach for the Baskersfield Jam of the NBD Developmental league last season. He played at Ohio State from 1988-92 and played professionally in the NBA and overseas.
How exactly the responsibilities of the assistants have not been ironed out. Jent coordinated the offense when he was last with the Buckeyes, but Boals served as the head of the defense in his time in Columbus. Still, Jent said he considers himself a basketball coach and is comfortable coaching either side of the ball.
Though he said he grew tremendously as a coach over his time away from Columbus, Jent said leaving Columbus in the first place and that having the opportunity to return to Matta's staff was too good to pass up.
"I made all the sense in the world and I was really happy when Thad had talked to me about coming back," Jent said. "I couldn’t get here quick enough. It was great.
"When your boss is genuine — and I don’t care where you go — any recruiting you do around the country one thing that’s always said is Thad Matta is a great guy. To add to that, he’s as good of a basketball coach. To match those two things, it’s a special deal. It’s not by luck that he’s been so successful. It’s because of his ability to coach the game, relate to young men, to help them grow and his quality of person. He’s a genuine guy. It’s great to be back working with him. His sense of humor, it’s fun and enjoyable and you also learn and get better as a professional.”
While it may have been an easy decision for Jent, the return to the college game comes with a lot of changes. First of all, it requires a move down the bench for Jent after he served as a head coach with the Jam, though he said he has no problem being in an assistant role once again. Jent did admit that becoming the head coach at Ohio State would classify as his dream job, he isn't worried about what's next now.
"Whatever happens in the future, it happens," Jent said. "Our goal right now is to get these guys ready to have a great season next year.”
The move also requires the coach to deal with the time restrictions that come with the college game, an aspect of the job that frustrated Jent when he last coached at Ohio State, but one he said can be overcome with "a certain level of intensity every day."
The biggest change, however, is a return to the recruiting trail. Jent hasn't had to recruit players since his last stint in Columbus, one that saw him recruit current Buckeye Jae'Sean Tate. But the assistant said he's a better recruiter now than he was his first time as an Ohio State assistant, having learned from his time alongside Matta.
"You learn the trade itself. There’s a process to it, there’s a way to go about it," Jent said. "Having had that experience previously you kind of know what you’re getting in to whereas before everything was kind of new, I was just exploring, asking the coaches step by step, whereas now I know what works for me and have a game plan, so it makes it a lot easier in that respect.”
Jent feels he will be better in his second tenure at Ohio State than he was in his first and he was anxious to get to prove himself once again as a Buckeye.