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Devin Royal commits to Ohio State

By Jake Spegal and Zach Fleer, 08/03/22, 2:45PM EDT

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The top player in Ohio is staying home and playing for the Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's official. Devin Royal is staying home.

Royal, the top 2023 prospect in Ohio, announced on Wednesday at Pickerington Central that he is going to play his college basketball at Ohio State.

The 6-foot-7 wing has blown up over the last year and received a handful of high major offers but ultimately felt that Ohio State is the best fit, leading him to choose the Buckeyes over Michigan State and Alabama.

"I built a great relationship with the coaches and love the plan they have for me," Royal told 270 Hoops.

Ohio State fans are going to be thrilled with the commitment of Royal and he understands what it means to commit to such a big time school in your hometown.

"I feel like it is all going to be a great opportunity for me and having all of family and friends here will be great," said Royal.

Buckeye fans will be hoping for Royal to bring the same kind of success to the program as their last local recruit did as Malaki Branham proved to be a joy to watch for the Buckeyes during his one season with the program.

After winning a state championship in March, dominating on the EYBL circuit all summer and showing out at various elite camps, Royal has shot up the national rankings over the past six months and has blossomed into one of the best prospects to come out of Columbus in recent years.

He is amongst the top 100 players in the country on every major recruiting site, most notably being ranked 26th in the 2023 class via on3.com.

"It's been crazy," said Royal. "I've loved it. There have been a lot of great opportunities and experiences for me and it's been very exciting."

With his combination of elite skillset and high level work ethic, Royal is only going to continue to improve as we, along with many others, expect him to keep getting better and better in front of our eyes.

He will look to carry his summer momentum over into the high school season as he seeks to lead Pickerington Central to another Division I state title.

Although the Tigers lost a few key players from last season's roster, they return a handful of experience and talent and will always have the advantage of having the most dominant player in the area playing for them.

Royal doesn't expect to slow down at all this winter either as his expectations remain high heading into his final season of high school basketball.

"Go back-to-back for states, that's our goal," said Royal. "I think we're capable of doing it, we just have to continue improving as a team."

While the Columbus area gets to enjoy Royal's senior season this winter, the Buckeye faithful are now elated as Coach Holtmann and his staff have landed their top priority in the 2023 cycle.

Holtmann recruited Royal harder than any local prospect in his six years as head coach, as those efforts ultimately paid off, with the Pickerington Central stud choosing the Buckeyes over a heavy list of contenders. 

- Jake Spegal

What this means for Ohio State

Devin Royal is the first local player since Kaleb Wesson in 2017 to commit to Ohio State out of high school. While local fans may be upset that it's taken six years for the Buckeyes to get another Columbus stud, Royal is the first local prospect since Wesson who not only checks all the boxes, but also has a state championship as a junior on his resume.

Royal could be Ohio State's last high school commit in this class, as the coaching staff would at max take one more prep player. The 6-foot-7 Royal is a great fit for the program, who will certainly push for the Pickerington Central stud to reel in plenty of NIL opportunities when he arrives on campus next year.

Ohio State has a great tradition of success when Columbus natives are on the roster. 

In the Buckeyes' last three trips to the Final Four, each has featured at least one local player.

  • 1999: Michael Redd (Columbus West), George Reese (Columbus Independence)
  • 2007: Ron Lewis (Columbus Brookhaven)
  • 2012: Jared Sullinger (Columbus Northland), JD Weatherspoon (Columbus Northland)

As Chris Holtmann enters his sixth season as head coach of the Buckeyes, in Royal he has his first local commit. And you would have no argument from us if you think Royal is the best local player since Wesson. 

This is a huge get for Holtmann and the Buckeyes, as it could start  a domino effect on the recruiting trail when it comes to retaining top talent.

The next big targets for Ohio State are local prospects who have made it big out of state in Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's John Mobley Jr. and Montverde Academy's Amier Ali. 

The 2024 guard Mobley, who has been lighting it up for Vegas Elite on the EYBL, leading all players in three-point percentage at 51 percent, is a Columbus native that spent his prep years here before moving to Vegas.

Ali is a Columbus native, that like Mobley, left the city to pursue his basketball career at the prep level. With the second-largest Somali population in America, Columbus would be thrilled to bring Ali home, as he is arguably the most talented basketball player in history of Somali descent.

Mobley is arguably the best shooter in the country and has a game that is very reminiscent to Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. The 6-foot-8 wing Ali is uber talented and ranked No. 26 by ESPN in the class of 2024. 

Great players attract other great players. With Royal in the fold for Ohio State, this could be the beginning of the glory years for the Buckeyes. This commitment feels a lot like Jared Sullinger's in 2007, which helped the Buckeyes build a powerhouse program that won 175 games, multiple Big Ten titles and made two Final Four from the time Sullinger committed to when he played his final game for Ohio State. 

Much like Royal, Sullinger ALSO won a state title as a junior, which seems to be a trend that attracts local studs to Ohio State. 

Royal's commitment should quiet some of the criticism Holtmann has faced from the local community, as the Buckeyes head coach is very selective for the type of players he wants to bring into his program. The Pick Central senior is the type of player and person that Ohio State covets, which makes his high-level talent that much more attractive.

Buckeye basketball fans, buckle up. The best days are ahead.

- Zach Fleer

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