Much has changed since the last time Jake Diebler sat before a microphone and media contingent.

Four new transfers have been added to Ohio State’s roster. Five new coaches have filled out Diebler’s first staff.


What clearly hasn’t changed much is the head coach’s personality and approach. The Buckeyes are still focused on forging an identity around an increased pace, versatile play and a family atmosphere. Diebler even enjoys much of the same daily routines he did when he was an assistant, he said, though his coaching duties weigh heavier on his mind throughout.

However, his goal this season is to cut down nets, something he and his players haven’t shied away from this offseason. Three-point shooting development and the acclimation of pieces like Sean Stewart and Aaron Bradshaw will be important for obtaining such objectives.

  • On how he prioritized what to address in the offseason: “A lot of change. I think the landscape of college basketball warranted that change. … It was more about attacking each day and trying to be productive. Certainly, the staff component was important, but you couldn’t not recruit, roster management, all those things. … There’s added stress, pressure, but I’m having a blast.”
  • Versatility and players with winning NCAA Tournament experience were priorities in the transfer portal. “We certainly wanted to structure the roster to the style we wanted to play going forward. … There’s a lot of really, really good players that want to be at Ohio State.”
  • On building the coaching staff and what its new members bring: “They all come from winning programs, and they’ve won at a high level. … Jamall (Walker) coming off arguably the best three-year stretch in the history of the school. … Luke (Simons) being at Baylor and working for Scott Drew and that’s someone I know and trust. … Then Dave Dickerson, part of that Final Four team the last time that I was here. … I love the guys that we were able to bring in. … Putting a staff together is a lot like building a team, there’s strengths, weaknesses, chemistry is important.”
  • Experience and familiarity with winning programs were important for Diebler in roster construction. “I think what he’s seen throughout his career is really, really important for us. … I think we hit it out of the park. … Talor (Battle), he hasn’t been coaching for a long time, but man, he was a good player in this league, and he’s won in this league already. … I can’t tell you how excited I am about this staff.”
  • Diebler said that feeling the full ramifications of every decision made is the biggest difference between being an assistant and head coach. “You’re making decisions constantly. The other thing that shifted for me is, my mind doesn’t really shut off. … I find myself constantly thinking about what’s next. … That’s been an adjustment too.”
  • On the difficulty of roster construction in the transfer portal era: “It’s hard that the days of having a true understanding of what your roster is going to look like year-to-year, a year in advance is over. … I try to look at it as a positive. We have an opportunity every year to bring in the right pieces. … We’re gonna constantly dig deep to find the right guys. … We have guys who care about winning. Meechie Johnson cares about winning at Ohio State.”
  • On how the transfer portal has changed things: “It’s changed how you structure your roster, and it impacts recruiting, certainly. … You’re trying to project the impact guys can have next year. … But we still want – development is really, really important to me. We want guys who can develop in our program.”
  • On the freshman class of Colin White and Juni Mobley: “I like our two freshmen a lot. I think both of them are going to be able to provide some real value to this team, what that will be come November … that’s to be determined. Colin, having been in the state semifinals for four out of four years, it’s unbelievable, it’s awesome. Juni playing in the best high school league in the country, what he’s accomplished.”
  • While he still thinks Chris Holtmann is a great coach who will be successful at DePaul, Diebler said Ohio State needs to forge a new identity going forward. “We have to turn the page and be a completely different program.”
  • On Bruce Thornton: “First-year head coach, you get to have a guy like that on your team, that gives you peace and comfort. … He exemplifies what I want the program to be about.”
  • The experience of the Buckeyes’ backcourt and the depth of their frontcourt will help Sean Stewart and Aaron Bradshaw adjust to bigger roles this season, Diebler said. “Two McDonald’s All-Americans is certainly great for us, but we have some veteran guys that will help with that transition.”
  • Diebler says he loves the way fans come up to him and talk about the team, and he feels the excitement from the Ohio State faithful heading into this season. “I love how passionate our fanbase is and I love how much they care. … I’ve got my few coffee spots that I love in the morning, I can’t sneak in and out anymore. … It’s different, but it’s all good.”
  • While some has changed in his new role, Diebler said he’s kept a lot of his personal routines the same. “Leaning on them and asking questions is really important. But the common advice is ‘Be yourself.’”
  • On his overall thought on the direction of player pay and a potential pseudo salary cap: “I’m appreciative of the work (The Foundation) has done (in NIL). … I’m very confident we’re going to be leaders in this space and that’s exciting. I think it’s valuable for us and I haven’t been a coach for a long time, I’m not set in my ways. … I think it’s exciting.”
  • Diebler wanted to build enough depth this offseason to have guys battling for playing time. “I think we’re going to have a healthy amount of competition the way the roster is going to shape up. … We’ve got competitive guys, so I think that will be good for us.”
  • On how versatility influences Ohio State’s frontcourt rotations: “It allows us lineup flexibility. … I’ve challenged guys to expand their games this offseason.”
  • Diebler confirmed that the Buckeyes will play at Texas A&M and added that they are trying to finalize a deal for another home-and-home series with another high-major team.
  • There are many difficulties in scheduling modern college basketball, but it’s important for Diebler to always have a marquee home opponent for fans and the team. “Moving forward, I’d always love to have a high-major opponent in our gym.”
  • On how his experiences will aid him as a head coach: “I’ve been fortunate to work with and for some high-, high-level coaches. … Having worked at every level in-between in my career, I believe is really valuable. … I believe it gives me really good perspective.”
  • Ohio State plans to keep pushing the pace in 2024-25 against tough Big Ten defenses, but Diebler added that the team can’t be “reckless.”
  • On how being a father helps him as a head coach: “I think having daughters first gave me a different perspective. I just assumed we were going to have a boy, but God had other plans. … I think understanding how parents view their children has been valuable. … I don’t know if I ever anticipated we would have four kids under six years old. The fact that our family is able to function shows you how special my wife is. … The greater family of this program … that’s really, really important.”
  • On whether he thinks 3-point shooting is where it needs to be: “I think a big part of this is going to be development. … I believe we’re going to be a program that can help develop guys quickly. … Certainly Meechie is going to be a threat. … Juni Mobley, in my opinion, was one of the very best shooters regardless of class. … With our size, there’s going to be more opportunities to shoot. … Devin Royal is improving in that.”
  • Everyone on the roster is healthy, Diebler said.
  • Ohio State has been upfront about its Big Ten and even National championship expectations for this season, and Diebler says it’s not something his program will back down from. “I’ve seen where this program has been … the standard here in this program is just that. … That’s competing for championships. That’s the way this program has been, that’s the way it’s going to be moving forward. … That’s what we’re striving for and we’re not shying away from that. Certainly doesn’t guarantee anything … but if we can lean back to, ‘Hey, this is why we’re doing this,’ it’ll help us get through that adversity.”