Otto Landrum

Since posting a video from the court, Otto Landrum (‘22) has become a celebrity, transcending college basketball circles and entering a kind of social media stardom. In just over a month, he amassed nearly 400 thousand followers on TikTok, caught the attention of ESPN and Overtime and landed multiple brand deals. But amid all this attention, within 30 seconds of being texted for an interview, he responded with, “Anything for Torrey.” 

The Boston University sophomore, a 6’9” forward for the BU men’s basketball team, has spent the last month in the spotlight, ever since the team’s videographer, Zachary Taub, posted an edit of Landrum dunking, dancing and waving at the camera while saying what’s now become a sort of slogan: “Hi, Mom.”

While Landrum’s mother was an unexpected ticket to fame, she now “likes the publicity of saying that I’m her son,” Landrum said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

The edit has nearly 13 and 15 million views on Instagram and TikTok, respectively, and has been reposted too many times to count. It’s not only earned Landrum “a lot of pictures with random people,” but it’s also brought fans to his games — tickets to a Jan. 24 game were one fan’s birthday present, Landrum learned.

“That was crazy in my opinion,” he said. “But it just shows that I have a ton of support, which is awesome.”

Landrum leads the Terriers in rebounds and blocked shots, falling third in scoring. On Jan. 27, he scored a season-high of 26 points, clinching a 62-48 win against Lafayette College.

While on paper, his stats may conjure the image of a hardened athlete, it’s the personality in Taub’s video that Otto identifies with the most — a person who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

“I think athletes are put under a spotlight of … having to be very straight-faced, no emotions,” Landrum said. “But what I do every single day in life is be very positive … and people are attracted towards that and they’ve stayed with me because of it.”

This personality has not only garnered online support, but it’s also shaped him as a player.

“[Some athletes] are like, ‘Oh my god, I just played so bad; my life’s over.’ But that’s just not how it is,” Landrum said. “You’re gonna have another game another day.”

Landrum first entered the court his sophomore year at TPHS, a move that quickly brought him recognition on campus. In his junior year, he earned an All-CIF San Diego Second Team selection and during his senior year, he took the First Team honor along with an All-State Second Team accolade and Coastal League Player of the Year. 

But when remembering his time in the TPHS Olive Garden, it’s not the awards that come to mind. 

“The entire Torrey lifestyle … was nothing less than amazing,” Landrum said. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better high school experience.”

Landrum’s most vivid memory at TPHS is winning the CIF Open Division Championship in 2021 — a 63-60 win that earned the program its eighth championship title.

“You can sum [the game] up in one person and that’s Nick Herrmann — the most impactful person in Torrey Pines High School history,” Landrum said. 

Herrmann, who hit the winning buzzer-beater during the game, died in August 2022 from osteosarcoma, a kind of cancer. Landrum was among the speakers close to Herrmann at his celebration of life in the Olive Garden.

“He changed lives for a lot of people and being able to be up close and personal during that game with him … is honestly the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced,” Landrum said. 

Landrum returned to the Olive Garden this summer to coach Olive Camp, a basketball program hosted by TPHS boys basketball head coach John Olive. There, he reunited with Varsity Assistant Coach Jake Gilliam.

“Jake Gilliam has been a super big inspiration in what I do every day and I would say the same about all the rest of [the coaches],” Landrum said. “Oh, my goodness. Those guys are all awesome.”

Gilliam, who’s watched Landrum’s rise to fame, said the world is seeing what a “happy guy” Landrum is.

“[Landrum’s] staying who he is, but on a bigger scale,” Gilliam said. “It’s been cool to see him handle that success and continue to work hard.” 

It’s TPHS that Landrum thinks of when he envisions his future.

“I’m hopefully going to be able to go pro,” he said. “I want to bring a ton of light to Torrey Pines, if that does happen.”

While he may be wound up in stardom for the moment, basketball remains his focus. 

“There’s never a day that goes by where I’m like, I hate this [sport],’” he said. “It’s more of like, ‘Oh, my god, I gotta do this again.’”

The Terriers are currently 8-14 overall, and though Landrum ended our interview with another game approaching that weekend, he signed off with an enthusiastic “Go Falcons.”

Photo courtesy of Anna Scipione

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