Junior adheres to unique view of college career
Program Feature: Mark Titus Keeps it in Perspective
by Emily Krizan, Ohio State Athletics Communications
When an athlete is good at the sport he or she plays, it can be easy to lose perspective. Through rigorous and repetitive practices and drills, what was once fun becomes a chore. It is easy for talented athletes to forget they used to love the sport they play; but not Mark Titus.
The six-foot, four inch guard from Brownsburg, Ind., has never forgotten basketball is his passion. Because for junior Mark Titus, if you do not love what you are doing and are not having fun, then “you just shouldn’t be here.”
A high school stand out, Titus was a second-team All-Indiana selection after totaling more than 1,000 career points at Brownsburg High School.
However, after an offer to play at Harvard fell through, Titus had to reevaluate his options for the fall. Wanting to attend a big school, he decided to take a look at Ohio State after AAU teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. committed.
“I applied here as a safety school and looking back, this is my No. 1 choice,” Titus said. “People always talk to me about how I could have played at Harvard, but I love it here.”
After turning down offers to play at smaller schools, Titus decided to come to Ohio State as a student, not a basketball player. However, leaving the game he had grown up playing was easier said than done.
“I wanted something to do with my free time,” Titus said. “I love basketball, I’ve always loved basketball. I thought becoming a manager would be a good way to still have basketball in my life.”
In theory, becoming a team manager was the perfect alternative to playing but not for Titus; he wanted more.
“After about a week, I realized that being a manager made me want basketball even more; it made me want to play more,” Titus said. “It wasn’t helping the cause, it made it worse, so I quit.”
But soon after walking away, basketball found a way back into Titus’ life. With the team in need of bodies for practice, Titus joined the Buckeye roster as a walk-on on Nov. 10, 2006.
From student, to manager, to varsity basketball player, Titus was able to make the leap most high school players only dream of. But he soon found that college basketball was a far cry from high school.
“It’s a higher level of school and a higher level of basketball, so you have to put in more time for both,” Titus said. “I remember the first few weeks of practice my freshman year and calling my dad just about every night saying, remember in high school when we practiced for an hour and a half? It’s not like that anymore.’ You just run out of hours. It was a tough transition but it’s been a dream of mine to play college basketball at a high level, so I’m willing to make the sacrifices.”
Growing up in the Hoosier state, Titus’ knowledge of Ohio State athletics was limited.
“I grew up an Indiana fan and I never followed Ohio State,” Titus said. “My first Ohio State game was actually our first basketball game. I didn’t know anything about Ohio State sports, so the first time I heard “O-H-I-O” in Value City Arena was crazy.”
In his first game for the Scarlet and Gray, Titus nailed a pair of free throws in the Buckeye’s 107-69 victory over Virginia Military Institute in its season opener. In his rookie season, Titus appeared in 14 games and was part of a 35-4 team that contended for a national championship.
“To be on the biggest stage of something you’ve grown up doing your entire life and to reach the top was definitely a dream come true,” Titus said. “I honestly felt like I was part of a rock band, I thought we were like rock stars.”
“It was just indescribable. It was something I literally dreamed about being a part of my entire life.”
Even though the season ended in a disappointing 75-84 loss to Florida, Titus still describes the tournament road with his teammates as the “time of his life.”
“The thing about those guys was not just they were good basketball players, but that they were good people,” Titus said. “We were so tight off the court that it was easy to do the little things on the court for each other because you liked and respected each other.”
From the Final Four in 2007 to the NIT in 2008, Titus has been a part of two very different teams, but he doesn’t let that discourage him.
“Danny (Peters) and I talk about it all the time,” Titus said. “It’s almost like we’ve been to the top and we don’t really know where to go from here, so I guess we just go back. That’s the only thing we really can do and that’s what we try to do everyday in practice.”
And it is at those practices where Titus really shines. While he may not have the most points in the season statistics, his contribution to the team comes in the form of hard work and determination.
“Mark has a tremendous work ethic,” Ryan “Archie” Miller, Ohio State assistant coach, said. “He may not get as many minutes, but he is very involved and does whatever we ask. He has tremendous character. He really helps the team by keeping the atmosphere loose and the guys feeling good. In the end, that can help just as much as making baskets.”
Last season, the Buckeyes walked away with a 24-13 record and an NIT championship with the help of dedicated players like Titus. While Titus has high expectations for himself and his teammates, he still attempts to keep everything in perspective.
“Even though pretty much every player on the team has a better chance of making it to the NBA than I do, in the end, we’re still just kids trying to play the game we love,” Titus said. “I’m kind of playing with house money the way I see it; my career should have been over two years ago. Building friendships, having a good time and playing the best basketball I can is all I can ever really ask for.”
Tonight, the Buckeyes will take on the Delaware State Hornets in their first regular season game. Whether on the court or on the bench, you can bet that Mark Titus will be there for the Buckeyes, and he’ll be having fun too.