Devin Royal has picked a school, and Ohio State has landed one of its most significant recruits in recent history.
At a ceremony at Pickerington Central, the four-star small forward announced he will sign with the Buckeyes as part of their 2023 recruiting class. In doing so, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Royal became the highest-rated player from central Ohio to commit to Ohio State since fellow Pickerington Tiger Jae’Sean Tate, the No. 58 prospect in the 2014 class, who is now playing for the Houston Rockets after four seasons with the Buckeyes.
According to the 247Sports.com composite database, Royal, at No. 73 nationally, is the highest-rated player from central Ohio since Jerome Hunter, a Pickerington North product ranked No. 59 in the 2018 class. Hunter spent three seasons at Indiana and is now at Xavier.
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Royal’s commitment ends a recruitment that accelerated as his junior season culminated with a Division I state championship. He was unranked nationally until May, when he debuted at No. 86. On3.com ranks him No. 26 nationally.
His decision was slightly delayed due to technical issues, but eventually he was able to connect to Instagram Live and speak to analyst Paul Biancardi. As the audio came and went, Biancardi asked viewers, “Where do you guys think Devin Royal’s gonna go?”
As his voice carried on a speaker through Room 115 inside the high school, Biancardi read one viewer response that said, “Devin Royal, come on! Come to Michigan State!” That message repeated twice before the audio went out.
Flanked by his mother, Shannon Cornell, on his right, his father, Daryl Royal, on his left and his brother, Tresden Royal further to his left, Devin Royal reached to his left, donned an Ohio State hat and revealed a scarlet Ohio State shirt underneath his sweatshirt. His family of him did the same as a roomful of friends, classmates and school representatives audibly gasped and cheered.
“They just recruited me really hard, showed me a lot of love,” Royal said. “Players showed me love, alumni reaching out showing me a lot of love, so that was really the main thing.”
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After announcing a list of his top nine schools on July 18, Royal trimmed it to three a little more than a week later. Michigan State and Alabama were the other finalists, and Royal took an official visit to see the Spartans this spring before also taking one to Ohio State. Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann prioritized Royal during the spring along with assistant coach Jake Diebler.
Following his official visit to see the Buckeyes, Royal participated in the Kingdom Summer League at Ohio Dominican University on July 3 and said he wanted to make his final decision prior to his senior season but after helping All-Ohio Red reach the Peach Jam.
“They both were good visits,” he said when asked how his Ohio State and Michigan State official visits compared. “Great schools. It’s going to be a hard decision to pick between all these schools I’ve got, but I’m very blessed.”
As a junior, Royal averaged 19.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists and was named first-team all-state. In a 55-48 win against Centerville in the state title game, Royal led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and added four rebounds, two assists and a block.
“It was pretty hard,” he said of his decision. “I’m really blessed with all the coaches who were recruiting me. There were a lot of great programs.”
His commitment gives Ohio State a three-man 2023 recruiting class, with all three players hailing from Ohio. The Buckeyes previously landed commitments from Dayton Chaminade Julienne guard George Washington III and St. Marys Memorial center Austin Parks. Both are four-star prospects according to 247; Washington is No. 60 nationally and Parks No. 105.
Another key 2023 prospect is soon set to announce his college decision as well. Scotty Middleton, a five-star forward according to ESPN, will share his college decision Saturday. The 6-6, 195-pound small forward from Miami who plays for Wichita (Kansas) Sunrise Christian Academy will pick from a final three consisting of Ohio State, Seton Hall and UConn.