COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a polite manner, Devin Royal texted and asked if it was possible to reschedule our interview.
It may be the end of the AAU circuit and the start of the offseason, but the Pickerington Central rising junior is busy as ever. Royal had to figure out when he would have a free moment, something not as easy as it sounds, when balancing up to three workouts a day.
The hard work is paying off, signaled by three offers extended Royal's way this week. On Monday, he received his first high major offer from Penn State and less than an hour later, he shared an offer from Tulane. The next day, Dayton jumped into the mix.
The six-foot-six wing forward now holds nine total offers, which also includes Duquesne, Kent State, Akron, Toledo, Miami (OH) and Ohio. The recent rise in attention comes off the heels of Royal's excellent showing for All Ohio at the EYBL Peach Jam. ESPN National Recruiting Director Paul Biancardi listed Royal as a top ten standout from the 16U division.
"That was a great experience," Royal said of Peach Jam. "I feel like I had confidence coming into it, but now I just had to show people that confidence and show them what I can do."
Royal's AAU coach Devin Howard, who is also an assistant at Pickerington Central, saw first hand the impact Royal made. "The last two weeks, he showed he can compete at the highest level," Howard said.
The strong summer comes after a sophomore season in which he was first team All OCC-Buckeye and showed glimpses of his high-level talent. "I thought he had a really good season," Pickerington Central head coach Eric Krueger said. "He really improved as the season went along and had some really big moments for us."
Entering his eighth season with the Tigers, Krueger knows talent well and has coached multiple players that have moved on to all levels of collegiate Division I programs. Although Royal is only entering his junior season, Krueger said he's falling in line with some of his former standouts. "These last two years will determine a lot, but he's on a path with a lot of great [former] players," Krueger said.
Both Krueger and Howard credit Royal's versatility as to what makes him a special player. "[College coaches] see he can handle, he can shoot, but he can also go down low and work in the post," Howard said. "He's kind of a do-it-all forward. Coaches wanted to see him play against size and athleticism on the [AAU] circuit and were impressed with what they watched."
Krueger not only acknowledges Royal's versatility, but his willingness to work. "He knows how to play the game the right way, Krueger said. "He's a stud, a high character kid and is willing to get [the job] done."
For Royal, that job is in the form of three workouts a day. It starts with individual early morning sessions with trainer Jason Dawson, followed by Pickerington Central team workouts and then usually ends with body and weight training. It's the type of work that Royal is willing to put in to accomplish his dream of playing college basketball, something he started to believe could be a reality when he was an eighth grader at Ridgeview Junior High School.
Royal has time before he makes his college decision and instead is focused with taking on a leadership role for the Tigers, a team that will only have two seniors. "I feel we will be really good this year, the chemistry has to be great," Royal said.
If leadership can be shown by example, the Tigers should be in good hands with Royal taking charge.