Jent Heads Back To NBA Bench
The end of the Thad Matta era at Ohio State not only was unfortunate for Matta himself, it carried unfortunate timing for his assistants.
Replacement Chris Holtmann brought aboard his entire staff from Butler and hired a new strength and conditioning coach, which meant Matta’s crew – Chris Jent, Dave Dickerson, Greg Paulus and Alan Major – all had to hit the trail in June, when it was basically too late to latch onto another college program.
The only holdover is Director of Basketball Operations Dave Egelhoff, who already had a rapport with Holtmann and was needed to maintain continuity.
A source close to the program said the outgoing Matta assistants were dealing well with their very limited options and are able to spread out back payments and use other creative financial measures to buy time.
Meanwhile, longtime basketball strength and conditioning coach Dave Richardson has latched on with the successful Ohio State lacrosse program, keeping him on campus. Holtmann replaced Richardson with Quadrian Banks, with whom he connected while the two were at Gardner-Webb. Banks most recently was in a similar role with the Indianapolis Colts.
Whole Banks shifted from professional sports back to the college sphere, Jent is doing the opposite. A former NBA assistant at places such as Cleveland, Orlando and Sacramento, Jent has joined up with the staff of the Atlanta Hawks.
Some who followed the program believed Jent, a former Buckeye who helped OSU to a pair of Big Ten titles in the early 1990s, might have a chance to succeed Matta. That obviously wasn’t in the cards given the program’s recent slide and Matta leaving on less-than-great terms.
Jent did interview for the opening but athletic director Gene Smith eventually went with the 45-year-old Holtman, who is coming off a season which saw him named Big East Coach of the Year.
That prompted Jent to look at his NBA options and land in Atlanta.
“Chris is a great fit with our coaching staff,” Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said in the team’s official release. “Player development is at the core of our basketball program and he has a track record of improving players’ skill level and understanding of the game at every level. His experiences as a coach and former player will add to our group.”
Jent greatly enhanced his reputation as an NBA aide when he was credited for improving the outside range of Cavs superstar LeBron James while on the payroll in Cleveland.
Jent helped out Matta as a student coach while working on his graduate degree at OSU. He then returned to campus in June 2011 as a Matta assistant and was a member of the Buckeye staff when Ohio State advanced to the Final Four in 2012 and Elite Eight the following year. After that run, he returned to the NBA and served as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings.
In 2016, Jent returned to Ohio State to help perk up the Buckeye offense and run practices as Matta was dealing with health issues.
Jent was a 1,000-point scorer at OSU from 1988-92 and played at various professional levels afterward, including a stint with the Houston Rockets, which earned him an NBA championship ring.