Andrew Dakich, right, graduated from Michigan with a year of eligibility remaining and will conclude his career at Ohio State. Dakich spent part of his childhood in northwestern Ohio while his father, Dan, was the coach at Bowling Green. ASSOCIATED PRESS
COLUMBUS — Andrew Dakich is far from the first player to use the popular graduate transfer rule.
He’s just the first to take this path — an unthinkable, gasp-inducing, one-of-a-kind path.
The University of Michigan graduate will play his final season proudly wearing the colors of Ohio State.
The 6-foot-2 guard was in the market to transfer as a graduate student after four years at Michigan, and Dakich ended up as a Buckeye.
“Even when I said I committed to Ohio State, it didn’t really hit me until I put on my practice jersey for the first time a few weeks ago,” Dakich said. “I’m like, ‘This is really happening.’ ”
The son of former Bowling Green State University coach and current ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, Andrew spent part of his youth in northwestern Ohio but played his high school basketball in Zionsville, Ind.
A former walk-on, Andrew attempted to redshirt during his sophomore and junior seasons to preserve a year of eligibility, but gave it up both seasons when injuries shortened Michigan’s bench. He finally redshirted last season, serving as a scout team player for a Michigan team that went to the Sweet 16.
With playing time unlikely at UM — Andrew averaged 4.6 minutes as a junior — and with the help of Wolverines coach John Beilein, Andrew explored his options. Beilein recommended him to Chris Holtmann, who then was the coach at Butler, but Andrew initially committed to Quinnipiac.
Then chaos hit in Columbus. The Buckeyes fired longtime coach Thad Matta, the winningest coach in school history, and hired Holtmann from Butler. Holtmann brought his assistants to Columbus, and down to bare bones on the roster, Ohio State had an immediate opening for a guard eligible to play immediately.
Ironically, Ohio State suddenly had what Andrew wanted: Playing time, a power-conference scholarship, and a coach who needed his services.
“Never in a million years would I have thought I was going to play here,” he said. “I thought I would play for coach Holtmann at Butler when they were recruiting me a little bit, but once it all kind of fell into my lap, I was like, ‘I got to take this opportunity.’ ”
At one point, Ohio State was down to eight scholarship players in June. Point guard JaQuan Lyle quit in April, Holtmann kicked Derek Funderburk off the team shortly after his arrival, and incoming recruit Braxton Beverly asked for a release after the coaching change.
The Buckeyes needed help along the perimeter and additional veteran presence, and they ended up persuading a Wolverine to Columbus.
At Ohio State, Holtmann said Andrew will have periods when he is the primary ball-handler. Holtmann expressed his excitement to coach Dakich, a player he said understands what the Buckeyes need.
“He understands that we didn’t ask him to come in and be our leading scorer or lead our team in minutes,” Holtmann said. “We asked him come in and play a specific role, and I think he’s willing to do that.”
Andrew said his OSU teammates have been welcoming, which caused for an easy transition.
But they haven’t totally forgotten. Andrew said he has borne the brunt of some teasing, especially after he had to drive back to Ann Arbor to accept his ring for the Wolverines winning last season’s Big Ten tournament.
Andrew gave credit to Beilein, with whom he said he still has a “great relationship.”
This season, even for Andrew, will be a little different.
Dressed in his Buckeyes uniform last week at the team’s media day, Andrew was asked about what he did with four years worth of Michigan apparel.
“Let’s just say I did not bring any Michigan gear here, that’s for sure,” Andrew said, smiling. “I have some stored back home, but I did not bring anything.
“I got rid of a lot of blue. Let’s just say that.”