Nick Kellogg has made his own name, set his own marks
ATHENS, Ohio – As you might expect from the family name and family business, young Nick Kellogg got the ball and scored both often and rather easily.
"That was my sport, soccer," Kellogg said. "I thought it might be the one I stuck with."
He’s transitioned nicely.
Now an Ohio University senior, Kellogg has, over the last week, become both the school and Mid-American Conference all-time leader in 3-pointers made — two on Monday night in Ohio’s opening-round MAC tournament win gave him 279 for his career, passing Miami of Ohio’s Landon Hackim.
That win extended Kellogg’s career at least into tonight’s MAC quarterfinal against Miami, fittingly — a Kellogg game-winner completed a wild comeback win over the Redhawks in Athens in January — and gave Kellogg and Ohio’s other seniors a chance to become the winningest senior class in program history tonight, surpassing the group headlined by D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt that departed last season.
Kellogg passed Cooper last weekend on the school’s all-time 3-point list. From now until Saturday, his goal is to match Cooper by winning the MAC tournament for the second time and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
"You devote basically your whole life to something and it comes down to five days, to a few possessions, to sudden death, basically," Nick said. "That’s a crazy thought, but it’s a fun one. We live for these moments."
Even with his early soccer success, Kellogg’s has been a basketball life. The youngest son of Ohio State legend, former Indiana Pacer and current CBS television college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, Nick was born in Indianapolis when his father was working as a Pacers broadcaster.
The family moved to the Columbus area when he was young, and it didn’t take Nick long to learn of his dad’s place in Ohio State history.
"He’s a legend," Kellogg said. "He’ll downplay it, but he is."
Clark Kellogg said he always worried about his children playing basketball and "undue" pressure being put upon them "not just because of the name, but because I’m still really visible in my broadcast role. My wife and I tried to brace our kids for that, and it’s tough to explain to children, but that last name really can cut both ways."
Nick said his relationship with his father when it came to basketball "was never a burden. (Clark) was…a resource, a great source of information, a supporter. He was just a fan of me, my sister (Talisa) and my brother (Alex, who also played at Ohio). He never pushed too hard.
"To a lot of people, my dad is college basketball. To me, he’s just Pops."
Because of the knee issues that ended Clark Kellogg’s career, "there were no one-on-games, no blood in the driveway," Nick joked. "We played a lot of H-O-R-S-E. If you want to beat Clark Kellogg at a shooting game, you had better become a really good shooter."
Clark Kellogg flew back from New York City on Tuesday. He’ll be in Cleveland Wednesday night, then again on Thursday if Ohio is still playing, before returning to New York to work in the CBS studios this weekend.
"I always find a way to watch," Clark Kellogg said. "Over four years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it."
He’s had a pretty good seat, too.
"I’m extremely pleased and proud not just of the player that Nick has become, but the person he’s become," Clark said. "I knew in some form or fashion he would pursue basketball, and he’s both embraced it and improved to the point that he wants to keep playing professionally next year.
"I see a kid who’s found something he loves, who’s good at it…a kid who’s grown into a leader and a young man trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. I hope he has a great end in the coming days and weeks to his college career. Either way, I’m just overflowing with gratitude."
When Nick gravitated toward basketball in high school, he played on good teams at DeSales High School and a loaded AAU circuit in and around Columbus with the likes of Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics, last year’s National Player of the Year and current Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, current Ohio teammate Stevie Taylor, VCU guard Rob Brandenberg and West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten.
Between those guards and Cooper, there was never much opportunity for Nick Kellogg — listed by Ohio at 6’3 — to play his preferred position, point guard. So he adapted, started working on a quick-release 3-pointer that’s now become his signature shot and has always tried "to add layers" to his game, even if those layers don’t always show up in the box score.
"He’s put in the work," Clark Kellogg said. "That shot, he’s spent time working on it. For three years he played with a point guard (Cooper) who drew a lot of defensive attention and loved to kick it to the perimeter. He had to adjust to that. In high school, he was a scorer, a driver who usually had to make his own shot."
Said Nick: "Believe it or not, I was pretty much a power forward when I was younger. I guess I forgot to keep growing."
He didn’t get much recruiting interest at all, and when John Groce left his assistant job at Ohio State to become Ohio’s head coach, Nick was a quick sell.
"Coach Groce wanted me, I loved the campus and I was sold," Nick said. "It was just perfect."
A second-team All-Freshman MAC selection in his first year, Kellogg made 85 3-pointers as a sophmore for a team that shot its way to the Sweet 16, first by beating Michigan, before being outmanned and eliminated by North Carolina.
"I had eight rebounds in that (North Carolina) game)," Nick said. "I knew I should have been a power forward.
"It’s been awesome here. We’ve won a lot. We’ve had change (Groce left for Illinois after the Sweet 16 run) and we’ve still won. I’m surrounded by good guys, good people. I was never much of an Ohio State fan — I actually rooted for Indiana as a kid. But I’m a Columbus kid who got to knock Michigan out of the NCAA tournament. That’s pretty memorable."
That, like Nick’s game-winning shot earlier this season with Clark in attendance at Richmond, made "Pops" awfully proud.
"It’s been a good run — no, it’s been great, actually," Nick said. "I’m just really blessed and grateful."