After four-star power forward Kalen Etzler took his latest trip around Ohio State’s campus, Chris Holtmann brought him into his office.
Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon had watched Etzler develop into a top-60 overall recruit in his class while playing for Convoy Crestview and All Ohio Red the past couple years and determined he had finally developed enough to pull the trigger. The coaches offered him a scholarship, giving him his first high-major offer, and he accepted.
The Etzler File
- Class: 2021
- Size: 6-foot-8, 195 pounds
- Pos: PF
- School: Convoy Crestview
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: No. 51 (overall)
“I said, ‘I think I want to be a Buckeye,” Etzler told Eleven Warriors.
Etzler committed to Ohio State on the spot during his visit on Thursday, becoming the first commit in the team’s 2021 recruiting class and surprising the coaches. He publicly announced his decision via Twitter on Sunday.
“Hometown, I've got a lot of pride invested in Ohio State,” Etzler said. “The program fits how I play. Coach Holtmann, coach Pedon, I love those guys. Close to home. Everything's in line, so I decided to pull the trigger.”
He's the No. 51 overall player in his class and held offers from Bowling Green, Duquesne and Miami (Ohio), where his brother Javin will play beginning this fall. He also held interest from and visited Purdue and Louisville.
Eztler is also the second-ranked in-state prospect, behind only Malaki Branham, who plays for St. Vincent St. Mary. Now an Ohio State commit, he plans to serve as a part-time recruiter for Holtmann, and he has his sights set on Branham.
“I'm going to try to put some pressure on (others in my class),” Etzler said. “I like Malaki a lot. He wrecked us. He blew up. I'd really like to get him down on board. Meechie's a little harder, you know. He's got that worldwide notoriety, so that's a little harder. But ultimately, you know, I'm going to try to do what I can do to get some guys.”
Etzler has many family connections to the Buckeyes, namely his uncle, Doug, who played for them from 1991 to 1995.
After he "got word" about a week ago that Ohio State might extend an offer, Etzler talked to his family, including his uncle, and they supported the idea.
“I talked to my brother before it happened, my grandpa and whatnot, my uncle,” Etzler said. “My uncle was like, 'I would have committed on the spot too if I knew it was going to happen.' He knew without a doubt he was going to Ohio State. I talked to my brother. He said, 'The only reason you wouldn't do it is because you want to try to look cool and rack up offers or try to play things out with Purdue.' But ultimately, you know, get a head start on everything I can do, develop my game around where I want to go.”
Etzler committed before Ohio State even received a commit in its 2020 class, and he has two years in high school remaining.
So, now what?
“I'm just going to try to work,” Etzler said. “I want to try to be able to play as soon as possible when I'm down there, help them do as well as possible. They've got a good recruiting class coming in. A good transfer from Cal. Alonzo Gaffney, I like how he plays. We have similar games, he just has a little more length than me – his arms are long. DJ Carton, E.J. Liddell. They just got that 7-footer (Ibrahima Diallo). They're going to be good.”