Former Buckeye to Lead OCU Men's Basketball

Former Buckeye Tony Stockman to Lead OCU Men's Basketball

Tony Stockman, a 2005 graduate of The Ohio State University, was introduced on Tuesday as the new head men's basketball coach at Ohio Christian University.

Even though Tony Stockman has played basketball for practically his entire life, the former Ohio State guard felt it was time for a different path in the sport he loves.

“I want to make that transition from playing to coaching, because I want to help kids develop, not just basketball wise but spiritually as well,” Stockman said.

Stockman will take on that task as the new head men’s basketball coach at Ohio Christian University, the school announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

“Tony and I hit it off right a way when we talked about the position,” Ohio Christian athletic director Ben Belleman said. “He has a great genuineness about him, and I also like the fact he kind of grew up similarly as some of our current players, so he can understand and relate to them well.

“I’m confident Tony will be a great leader for us as we continue to move the program forward.”

Stockman takes over for Curtis Christopher, who stepped down after nine seasons as the school’s all-time career wins leader. The Trailblazers went 27-10 last season and finished third in the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II national tournament, which is the highest finish in program history.

A Medina native, Stockman talked about his desire to have a program that builds confidence.

“Kids respond better when you help build their confidence, and that’s a big part of what I believe in,” Stockman said. “I feel about 85 percent of basketball is confidence. Even the guys who have talent, they need to have confidence to succeed.”

Stockman said he has taken different things from the coaches he has played for, but his spiritual growth after college has also been instrumental in his development as a person.

“After college, that’s when I started to grow up. I started to grow in my faith, and that’s when my life changed a lot,” Stockman said. “That’s when I really embraced the confidence approach.”

Stockman noted his spiritual development also refocused the role of basketball in life.

“When kids grow spiritually, it is going to help them on the basketball court, because it helped me to realize it isn’t life or death,” Stockman said. “We play to enjoy the game, but it isn’t life or death, and I’m not going to be a coach who acts like when we make a mistake that it is life or death.

“It will still be okay, and we’ll move on to the next play.”

Stockman was named Ohio co-Mr. Basketball in 2000 after averaging 25.5 points per game and becoming the all-time leading scorer at Medina High School, where he led his team to a 58-9 record in three seasons.

He then signed with Clemson University and became the top freshman in the ACC by scoring 12 points per game. In his second season at Clemson, he was the leading sophomore scorer in ACC play with an average of 14.1 points per game in conference tilts.

Stockman decided to transfer following the 2001-02 season to Ohio State, where he had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

He averaged 13.6 points per game to lead Ohio State in scoring as a junior. As a senior, he led Ohio State to a 20-12 record under new head coach Thad Matta.

“Tony is a leader in every sense of the word,” Matta said in a statement. “He was a floor general for us and was the closest thing you could get to a coach on the floor.”

Matta and former Ohio State assistant coach John Groce, who is now the head coach at Ohio, have served as mentors for Stockman over the past nine years and will continue in that relationship in his new role at OCU.

After graduating from Ohio State in 2005, Stockman has played eight seasons of professional basketball abroad in France, Germany, Israel, Mexico and Brazil.

Stockman emphasized wanting to build a strong team culture.

“We want to play smart basketball, team basketball. Everything is about the team,” he said. “When someone scores on us, they didn’t score against one person, they scored against the team.”

He also wants his players to get out in the community and figure their next step after basketball.

“I want the kids to get into the community and figure out what they want to do with their life,” Stockman said. “At that age, I didn’t know what to do in life other than play basketball, play basketball and play basketball.

“But that’s not reality. There comes a point where you have to do something else, and I want the kids to get out into the community, volunteer and do different things and find their way a little earlier than I did.”

Article by BRAD MORRIS, Sports Editor, Circleville Herald