Austin Parks is well-aware of his strong suits on a basketball court.
To call the 6-foot-10, 235-pound center a load to deal with in the low post at the high school level would be an understatement, and the Saint Marys, Ohio, native has committed to a program that he believes will help him harness those natural gifts, utilize them properly and round out his repertoire even further.
“My biggest strength is my post game, because I’m obviously a big guy, and I feel like I could be more than that,” Parks told Eleven Warriors. “They’ve been telling me versatility is huge at Ohio State, and that’s why they made me such a priority, because they saw all the versatility that I have. I’m able to move, I’m fast, I can jump, I’m athletic and I got a good touch around the rim.”
After officially announcing his intentions to join Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2023 Sunday, the No. 148 overall prospect in the country and sixth-ranked player in the state is one step closer to the next level, where Parks hopes his game can grow beyond what he’s already shown in his young career.
And with Parks’ rare combination of size and skills, his potential ceiling could be far higher than his current recruiting rank might indicate.
On The Court
In Parks, the Buckeyes will get a big man with soft hands, great footwork and low-post mechanics with aggressive instincts on offense and the ability to routinely finish with authority at the rim.
Parks’ possesses an impressive collection of moves with his back to the basket given his age and size, often going up and under opponents or employing a drop step move before finishing with a score. Parks’ positional awareness down low stands out, and he does not shy away from taking advantage of a size mismatch against smaller defenders.
His stature makes him an offensive rebounding threat on nearly every missed shot at the high school level, but Parks also impresses with a deft passing touch out of the post that speaks even more to his advanced skill level. While Parks does plenty of scoring, he can distribute the ball as well and set up offense for others due to the attention he draws on the inside.
In Parks’ latest run with his AAU team, Ohio Buckets, head coach Jake Meisler said Parks averaged around 24 points and 14 rebounds per game. But even with that level of production, Parks wants to add even more to his game as his level of competition increases.
“I’m gonna have to expand my game out from just the post,” Parks said. “I’m getting a 15-foot jumper and I’ve been working on the three-ball a lot in practice. Of course defense is huge, I want to be a great defender in college, so I’m working on moving my feet and just working hard.”
Parks said he’s enjoyed his conversations with first-year Buckeye graduate assistant Greg Oden, who he’d love to work more closely with should the one-time Ohio State freshman phenom remain on staff by the time Parks officially joins the program.
“I’ve talked to him a few times. That’s awesome, first overall pick, that’s crazy,” Parks said. “Obviously he’s a great player and it sucks that his career got cut short, but with a big guy like that working with me, I have a lot of faith in what he was talking about.”
In The Class
Ohio State received a commitment from four-star top-50 combo guard George Washington III on Nov. 3, and with Parks joining the fold, the Buckeyes are ahead of schedule with the class of 2023.
Only four other programs in the country – Duke, Purdue, Indiana and Georgia – already have two commits in the class of 2023, which means the Buckeyes join a short list of schools that have a head start on their next haul.
While 6-foot-2 Washington gives Ohio State a high-level shooter and offensive playmaker in the backcourt, Parks gives the Buckeyes’ 2023 class an interior presence, and the timing of his commitment will allow the coaching staff to be particularly selective about how it wraps up the class as the spring approaches.
|POS||SENIORS||JUNIORS||SOPHOMORES||FRESHMEN||2022 COMMITS||2023 Commits|
|C||JOEY BRUNK (6TH)||–||ZED KEY||–||FELIX OKPARA||AUSTIN PARKS|
KYLE YOUNG (5TH)
SETH TOWNS (6TH)
|E.J. LIDDELL||–||KALEN ETZLER||–|
JUSTICE SUEING (5TH)
JUSTIN AHRENS (4TH)
|–||EUGENE BROWN||–||BRICE SENSABAUGH|
|SG||CEDRIC RUSSELL (5TH)||–||
|GEORGE WASHINGTON III|
JIMMY SOTOS (5TH)
JAMARI WHEELER (5TH)
|–||MEECHIE JOHNSON||–||BRUCE THORNTON|
Parks is the first in-state recruit in the class, as Washington hails from Louisville, but there are several wings from the Buckeye State that could be options to join them at Ohio State. The Buckeyes offered Africentric’s Dailyn Swain, a four-star small forward and top-100 overall prospect, back on Dec. 7. Pickerington Central small forward Devin Royal earned an offer from Ohio State on Oct. 11.
Outside of Columbus, 6-foot-7 Cincinnati shooting guard Rayvon Griffith – the No. 41 overall recruit in the class – is another name to keep an eye on, as well as three-star Dayton combo guard Lawrent Rice.
The Buckeyes have also offered 6-foot-6 top-50 small forward Scotty Middleton from Wichita, Kansas, as well as four-star point guard Layden Blocker, the No. 36 recruit in the class who hails from Maumella, Arkansas.
After going without a center in the 2021 recruiting class, Ohio State will now have one in back-to-back classes, with 6-foot-11 four-star signee Felix Okpara set to join the team a year before Parks enters the program.
Parks intends to let his hard work speak for itself when he arrives on campus in 2023, and he’s also looking forward to bonding with his teammates on and off the court.
“I’m gonna work my hardest in everything I do. I’m gonna make the right choices and I’m gonna give it 100 percent in the classroom,” Parks said. “I like to be around other people, probably my teammates are gonna be who I’m around most, so bonding with my teammates and all that.”
Parks said he spent some time with Washington while visiting Ohio State for the Penn State football game this past fall, and Washington sent him a few direct messages on Instagram thereafter imploring him to join the Buckeyes’ 2023 class.
On the current roster, Parks said he’s spoken with Kalen Etzler several times in the past because the freshman forward’s hometown of Van Wert, Ohio, is not far from Saint Marys. Parks said he’s scrimmaged against Etzler a couple of times over the years.
Family is clearly important to Parks as well, as the Buckeye State native said staying close to home was one factor that made him ultimately decide on committing to Ohio State.
“I only live an hour-and-a-half away, which is a big part for me and my family because I wanted my family to be there to support me and be able to watch me play,” Parks said.