Ohio's Nick Kellogg makes own name, shoots way into record books
The Bobcats senior guard, and son of one notable CBS Sports college hoops commentator, is wrapping up a terrific career this month.
Nick Kellogg's quietly had one of the better mid-major careers for a guy who's securely been able to carve out his own identity. Kellogg's dad is CBS Sports college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, legendary <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Ohio Bobcats" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> player who was once considered the greatest high school recruit to come from Ohio.
Yet over the past four seasons, Nick's established his own reputation in the state and at an Ohio school of his own. He's done it without being "Clark Kellogg's son." That alone is pretty remarkable, but Clark said it "doesn't surprise" him at all that Nick's been able to separate himself in this regard.
As a Bobcat at Ohio, Kellogg's now the all-time leading 3-point shooter (277) in school history. He recently passed D.J. Cooper, the Bobcats point guard who graduated last year and helped the team to two NCAA Tournament trips -- with three wins, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012 -- during his time. Kellogg was also a part of one of those tourney showings and is among a senior class that needs two more victories to become the winningest group in Bobcats history.
With his next 3-pointer Kellogg, who shots 40 percent from deep, will also be the all-time 3-point shot-maker in MAC history.
Yet Kellogg, who just won MAC Player of the Week for the third time, wasn't recruited as or expected to be a long-ball player. This has been a surprising rise to the league's record books. Kellogg became a deep threat when he got to campus, after it was clear that his high school position, point guard (St. Francis in Columbus, Ohio, where he's the all-time leading scorer), was not an option at OU.
"In high school I could shoot the ball but that wasn’t necessarily the first thing on the scouting report," Kellogg said. "We already had a point guard in D.J. Cooper and there were a couple of guys who had that role."
But he adapted immediately under then-Bobcats coach John Groce, who first made his pitch to Nick ... on a soccer field. That was where Groce first met him/saw him play, as Kellogg was an elite high school soccer player in addition to hoops. Nick is the youngest of three, and his two older siblings also played multiple sports, college level included.
"He was a two-sport athlete and never devoted 100 percent of his time to either one," Clark Kellogg said. It was once hoops was clearly the path that basketball became the priority, year-round.
The choice to go to Ohio was the obvious one almost from the beginning. In part because of Groce's early interest, but also because older brother Alex, who also played basketball, transferred there after spending two years at Providence. During his first three seasons in Athens, Kellogg saw 76.7 percent of his shots come from 3. This season that number has fallen to 52.9, still a high number, but he's made himself a better all-around player, also averaging 3.5 boards and 2.7 assists.
This has been part of the maturation process, but also the coaching change. Alongside Maurice Ndour, one of the best players in the league, 21-10 Ohio has a solid shot at playing sleeper/spoiler in this week's MAC tournament. The Bobcats get started Monday night with a game against Ball State.
Kellogg said his recruiting process was "odd" in regard to how a few schools went about recruiting him. (This is where dad becomes an interesting factor, for sure.) But Groce's connection with Ohio State, where he was an assistant prior to landing at Ohio, coupled with his thorough recruitment was pretty much all Kellogg needed. Location was a factor, too; 90 miles was close enough to home, but not too close.
"To be quite honest, when Groce offered, I had my mind made up," Kellogg said.
He didn't strongly consider any other schools, not even Ohio State, where he would've been a preferred walk-on who was living in dad's shadow.
"I figured that would be kind of a weird situation,” Kellogg said.
The bump in the road for this program and Kellogg was Groce's promotion. After the Sweet 16 run in 2012 -- and remember, Ohio gave No. 1 North Carolina a game before falling 73-65 in overtime -- Groce took the Illinois job.
Kellogg wasn't thrilled with the change, but it's worked out pretty well for his career. He has a better profile as a player now, with a chance to play overseas, and that came about because Jim Christian and assistant Aaron Fuss, a holdover from the Groce era.
"There’s definitely pluses and negatives to that process," Kellogg said. "One of the things that stuck out to me was, with this new staff, it gives you the chance to recreate your identity and what you bring to the team. … That's one thing this staff has been really good about. They basically told me they believed in me and thought I could do some other things than I could do in the past, which I was extremely pleased with. The negative is, I think it’s really, really tough for coaches to inherit players that they didn’t recruit. Getting to know each and every person, personalities, identities. That can be difficult for a new staff and having to deal with things that come up inevitably during a season. And for players as well to adjust to a new coaching style. New guys, new system, new philosophy, new terms."
Ohio's been the best spot because there has been that system of support, too. Mom's been to about 90 percent of the games over the past four years, according to dad, who's made it to nearly half as well. Back in the 2012 tournament, Nick texted, "DAD, TELL CBS TO SEND YOU TO NASHVILLE."
Ohio was headed there for the first weekend. Clark famously watched the games on his iPad, catching glances in between game-calling duties at a different site for CBS. Clark's known as a man of introspection and thankful nature, and this run by Nick has him as proud as you'd expect.
"It's something you hope for as a parent for all of your children," Clark Kellogg said. "For his personal and spiritual growth as a college student and student-athlete. I'm extremely gratified to see him reap the fruits of his labor and establishing his own legacy, and not only as a player there. But it's been quite overwhelming as we've been at games, been in the stands and particpating in Senior Day, and to hear comment form people, unsolicited, on what he's done how he's carried himsef. I well up with tears of gratitude."
In part because Clark never had Senior Day; he left for the NBA and was drafted in the first round by the Pacers following his junior year, in 1982.
Now Kellogg and Ohio hope to keep the season alive as long as possible in a stout MAC bracket. Kent State, which spoiled Kellogg's Senior Day, could await if Ohio gets by Ball State first. Toledo and Western Michigan are very solid teams near the end of the bracket. The Bobcats would've been in better position if not for an injury-riddled season. Starting forward Ricardo Johnson, the team's best defender, broke his leg in January. Point guard Stevie Taylor fractured his leg seven games ago.
At least the team's won more road games (nine) than any Ohio group in 28 years. If it's going to get close to a championship, Kellogg's probably going to have to mimic Pops and save some of the best games of his career for this last run.
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