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Ain’t No Half-Steppin’

Scoonie Penn and other former Bucks take the court once more at TBT You might think that this TBT Tournament is something like an extended all star game where former college greats go on to play out the string. You’d be wrong. The Basketball Tournament is in its fifth year, and is billed as the [...]



Scoonie Penn and other former Bucks take the court once more at TBT

You might think that this TBT Tournament is something like an extended all star game where former college greats go on to play out the string. You’d be wrong. The Basketball Tournament is in its fifth year, and is billed as the most intense basketball competition in the world. Two million dollars in prize money waits at the end, and the winner takes it all.

It took a while for things to come together here in Columbus, but last year, Team Scarlet and Gray was able to round out a proper team.

This year’s roster  features the likes of backcourt heroes David Lighty, Jon Diebler, William Buford, and Aaron Craft.  Dallas Lauderdale, Jared Sullinger, and Byron Mullens bring some beef to the frontcourt.  van Turner will bring his expertise to the bench as a coach along with Scoonie Penn who also serves as the GM.

Last year, the team fell short, but Scoonie anticipates a stronger showing in 2018.

“This is a very unselfish team,” he said. “There’s a lot of mutual respect here, everybody contributes.  We win and lose as a team.”

The obvious question is one most guys in Scoonie’s position would dance around for fear of offending somebody, but Scoonie’s not afraid to take his shot on or off the court. Of this Buckeye Dream Team before him, who would he like to take back to 1999?

“Jared Sullinger,” he says without hesitation. “He’s got that nice wide body, and knows how to set a screen. I’d have gotten so many open shots with him on the court.”

Perhaps that candor is why he commands so much respect. Players from every generation like him. The older guys like Clark Kellogg and Ronnie Stokes embrace him as one of the all time Buckeyes, and the younger guys see him as a mentor—someone who gets it. It means a lot to him to be held in such high esteem by the people in Columbus. The undersized guard won the heart of Buckeye Nation with his tenacity on the court, and his humility off of it.

“I love Columbus and central Ohio,” he said. “They embraced me the minute I arrived on campus and I embraced them right back. I got involved in the community, and that relationship just grew, but that’s how I am. I’ve always been a people person.”

Scoonie played pro ball in Europe for 11 years, and last year he was hired as the Director of Player Development by new head coach Chris Holtmann. It was heralded by everybody who covers the program as a smart hire, but still surprising as Holtmann and Penn had no prior relationship.

It was a decision based purely on respect—a respect that goes both ways.

Holtmann, you see, wants players who are like Scoonie. He wants them to embrace the community, and be good citizens. Scoonie believes Holtmann was the right hire at the right time for the Buckeyes. Like the coaches before him, he demands excellence on the court, but wants his players to excel off of it as well.

“One day that basketball stops bouncing—and all you have are those relationships you’ve built.”

These days, Scoonie’s a suburban dad with a wife and four kids. His son is a top basketball prospect and is considering his options for the future. Coincidentally, so is Scoonie. As much as he loves Columbus, and his role with the basketball program at Ohio State, his journey has only just begun. “I want to coach,” he said.

This Tournament, he hopes, will serve as a catapult to that next level. That’s why it’s so important for people to understand what TBT is all about.

“This is no rinky-dink, roll the ball out and have some fun kind of deal,” Scoonie said. “TBT is very serious. These guys feel like they have something to prove, and they are playing at a high level of intensity.”

After all these years, it’s still hard not to love Scoonie Penn. He has a passion for the game, and for life itself that is infectious. He’s an open book who speaks from the heart, and that’s something players and assistant coaches will respond to when he gets his shot.

The Roster: Scarlet & Gray (and a Few Others)

GM: Scoonie Penn

Head Coach: Evan Turner

William Buford (2008-2012)

David Lighty (2006-2011)

Leon Rodgers (Northern Illinois 1998-2002

Dallas Lauderdale (2007-2011)

Jon Diebler (2007-2011)

Aaron Craft (2010-2014)

Byron Mullens (2008)

Evan Ravenel (2011-2013)

Jared Sullinger (2010-2012

Taylor Battle (Penn State, 2007-2011)

The TBT Midwest Regionals Will be held at Capital University’s Capital Center July 20-22. For more, visit


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First-of-its-kind high school helps students break cycle of addiction




Students recovery from substance use disorders often relapse upon leaving treatment and returning to their old school. A newly opened school on the city's east side seeks to help young people break the cycle of addiction through dedicated care and attention.

Heartland High School is Ohio's first school specifically for students recovering from addiction. The inaugural class consisting of 8 students will receive a recovery-centered education that aims to create a sense of belonging, self-confidence and purpose.

The purpose of a recovery high school is to give students in recovery a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment that is specifically conducive to substance use recovery.

Heartland High School will receive and maintain a charter issued by the state board of education. Students will be awarded a state-recognized diploma upon graduation.

Heartland High School is located at 760 E. Broad Street in Columbus. For more information, visit

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Review: Not Chicken Takeover debuts today!

Mitch Hooper



Hail seitan!

No, this isn't a religious cry—it's a plant-based one. And the newest addition to the ever popular Hot Chicken Takeover will soon have everyone from carnivores to vegans saying the same thing.

Hot Chicken Takeover is a solidified Columbus staple. The lines for lunch at the North Market prove that, and expanding to Clintonville as well as Easton Town Center further show that the hype for HCT is real. And as a vegetarian, my jealousy was at an all time high. But now I can officially confirm: Hot Chicken Takeover is certified good. Look out Impossible Burger, you've got some competition.

The menu option at HCT is created out of the aforementioned seitan. Basically, as Wikipedia so eloquently describes it, it is: "Wheat gluten is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten." I know what you're thinking: yummy!

But before you stick up your nose, this isn't just your run-of-the-mill tofu knock-off. Compared to tofu which can become squishy and sponge-like, seitan holds it's consistency where it stays more firm similarly to what happens to fried chicken. And this holds true at Hot Chicken Takeover. Whether you have yours served on a sandwich or atop two slices of white bread, the seitan never loses it's texture and consistency. It goes to show that nine months of hard work pays off (shout out to Craig Morin!).

Speaking of texture and consistency, the exterior of the seitan brings all the flavor and heat you'd imagine from the regular menu options. It's crispy and soaks up that house-made ranch dressing, plus little fried bits fall off throughout the eating process. It's the simple things like crispy and spicy bits of the "skin" that give you the full experience.

Eating this "Not" Chicken Takeover really reminded me of my first experience of trying the Impossible Burger. As a vegetarian, you almost feel guilty eating something that resembles what it's trying to replicate so well. Though the Impossible Burger takes the crown for appearance (it freakin' bleeds, ya'll), HCT is a close rival. And the seitan at HCT isn't nearly as a flavor diva like the Impossible Burger. The flavor is similar to chicken, but it also allows the other flavors to shine like the sauce. Meanwhile, the Impossible Burger sometimes feels like it's just trying too hard. Chill out, ya know?

It's a big ask for meat-eaters to ditch the delicious chicken at HCT for a meal, but it's worth it. As I brought back leftovers to my predominately carnivorous office, the only complaint they had was they wanted more. As for my vegan and vegetarian friends, save some house made ranch for me.

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Dear I-670 drivers, your lives are about to change




Notice anything different on your I-670 and/or I-270 commute this week? Could be the nine 600-square-foot, 110,000-pound digital signs towering over the freeway.

When operational this fall, these signs will display information about the first ever Ohio SmartLane.

The I-670 "SmartLane" is the left shoulder that will be opened when traffic slows to a crawl. It will begin just east of I-71 in downtown Columbus and extend to I-270 on the East Side.

The SmartLane will be closed most of the time, indicated by a red X. But when traffic dips below 50 mph, The Dispatch reports traffic monitors will send signals to the overhead signs to open the SmartLane.

A green arrow will appear along with a speed limit for SmartLane drivers to abide by (slower speeds keep traffic moving during congestion). A yellow indicator will appear when the lane is about to close.

ODOT will be installing more than 30 traffic cameras to monitor the lane for any obstructions, reports The Dispatch. The right shoulder of I-670 will be free for disabled vehicles to use.

The $61 million project is expected to be open in October. Visit for more information on the project and the new traffic patterns.

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