When Ohio State defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau took his official visit on June 18-20, he met with head basketball coach Chris Holtmann to discuss the possibility of him playing both sports in college.
The 6-foot-4 and 277-pounder ultimately got the blessing of Holtmann and Buckeyes head football coach Ryan Day to do just that, which is why he included a photo of himself in a basketball uniform in his commitment graphic earlier this month.
That said, there are still a few things that need to happen before Tuimoloau finds his way onto the hardwood at Value City Arena.
“I think we’re a ways away from him stepping onto a court,” Holtmann said during his media availability on Tuesday morning. “Ryan and I will have conversations. It will, I’m sure, ultimately come down to what the young man and his family really want to do.”
Tuimoloau, who averaged 18 points and eight rebounds during his pandemic-shorted senior season, played guard, forward and center for the Crusaders. He held scholarship offers to play basketball at Oregon and Washington, which were two of his final four schools alongside Ohio State and USC.
“We’ve seen him on film. We watched him a little bit,” Holtmann said. “I met with him when he was here, we had breakfast. Beautiful kid (from a) beautiful family.”
If Tuimoloau – the highest-rated defensive player to ever sign with the Buckeyes – were to play both sports, he wouldn’t count against the basketball program’s scholarship count due to NCAA rules that attribute him solely toward the football program’s 85-man limit.
He would also be the first athlete to play both football and basketball at Ohio State since former safety Nate Salley, who averaged 0.8 points and 0.4 rebounds in 10 games after walking onto the program just days after the Buckeyes beat Miami (Fla.) to capture the national title.
“I’m not going to stand in the way of a national championship or a first-round pick,” Holtmann said.
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