Ohio State has welcomed center Joey Brunk to its men’s basketball program just over a week after he announced that he would be transferring from Indiana. He is the second player to join the Buckeyes through the off-season transfer portal following former Penn State player Jamari Wheeler.
Joey Brunk, with a height of 6-feet 11-inches and weighing 225 pounds, began his college basketball career at Butler where he was a feature for three seasons. He also had a red-shirt year, in 2016-17, with now Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann, so is not a complete unknown. He transferred to Indiana before the 2019-20 season where he averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Hoosiers in an average of 19 minutes play per game. It means that Brunk will be entering his sixth and last season of college basketball by playing with the first coach he ever signed with.
Brunk did not play any of last season because of surgery he undertook for a back injury. Even during his absence he was voted among one of four players by his teammates as a candidate for team captain. Now back to full strength, Brunk intends to take full advantage of the extra year of eligibility he has as a result of COVID 19 to suit up for coach Holtmann once again. He has said that he has a great deal of respect for Holtmann who he said was someone he could always approach for advice or when he needed to make big decisions about his playing career. He says that being able to play for Holtmann is a great way to repay him for his mentor-ship.
Brunk is expected to make a strong contribution to defense for Ohio State as well as a re-bounder. He will join a Buckeyes fore court that is set to feature senior Kyle Young, juniors Ibrahima Diallo and EJ Liddell and sophomore Zed Key if, as widely expected, Liddell withdraws from NBA draft consideration. Brunk is well known for his post defender abilities, as a scorer as well as a rebounder. His addition gives Ohio State an option to team with Zed Key to hold down the center position and keep Liddell at power forward.
Many commentators say the reason for the Buckeyes’ recent defensive struggles was due to the fact that they lacked a large player in defense. In a conference dominated by big players, it was said that Ohio State did not have the size or strength required to meet the challenge of players like Hunter Dickinson or Kofi Cockburn. While Kyle Young is an accomplished player he couldn’t defend effectively against the size of those of players, although he did his best. Joey Brunk is expected to make up for that shortfall, so to speak.