Ohio State stunned the college basketball world Monday by announcing the end of coach Thad Matta’s tenure.
Although the Buckeyes missed the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, director of athletics Gene Smith announced just before the end of the season Matta would return for 2017-18.
Here are five things to know about the now-former Buckeye mentor:
1. Matta was hired from Xavier in July 2004 to replace Jim O’Brien, who had been fired after admitting he gave money to a recruit.
Matta more than stabilized a program in turmoil, he ultimately coached (460) and won (337) more games than any previous OSU cagers coach.
The Buckeyes were national runners-up in Matta’s third season in Columbus (2007) and also made the Final Four in 2012.
2. A native of Hoopston, Ill., Matta played at Southern Illinois and Butler before becoming an assistant coach at Indiana State in 1990.
He had two stints as an assistant coach at Miami University before returning to Butler as an assistant in 1997 and becoming head coach of the Bulldogs in 2000.
3. After one year at his alma mater, Matta moved to Xavier.
Matta’s Musketeers won 26 games in each of his three seasons and advanced in the NCAA tournament all three years he was in Cincinnati.
The 2004 Xavier team went to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Duke by three points.
That Musketeers, which included former Dayton Christian standout Romain Sato, also gained national notoriety when it handed St. Joseph’s its first loss of the season in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
4. Matta enjoyed nearly instant success at Ohio State.
His first team at Ohio State followed a disappointing final season under O’Brien by winning 20 games, including a shocking last-second win over previously undefeated and top-ranked Illinois in the season finale.
Matta’s second Ohio State team was expected to be a stop-gap before the arrival of a highly-regarded recruiting class that included center Greg Oden and point guard Mike Conley Jr. out of Indiana and Dunbar guard Daequan Cook, but the Buckeyes surprised many by winning 26 games and the first of five Big Ten regular championships.
5. Matta coached 10 NBA draft picks in Columbus, including Conley, Oden and Cook.
However, the recruiting success waned in the latter half of his tenure.
Six of his eight first-round picks played from 2007-10, and Franklin High School star Luke Kennard is just one of several Ohio prep stars to find success elsewhere over the past few seasons as the Buckeyes’ win totals declined.
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