Living just 90 minutes from Ohio State campus in Saint Marys, Ohio, Austin Parks wanted to deliver the news in person.
The three-star center and No. 148 overall prospect in the class of 2023 brought his family and a couple friends with him to the Schottenstein Center for the Buckeyes’ matchup with Maryland last Sunday, but Parks was not just there for the game. The junior from St. Marys Memorial High School sat down in a conference room with Chris Holtmann before tip-off and informed the Ohio State head coach of something Parks had already known for a couple of weeks.
“I told him I just had a couple things to say, and that I wanted to be a Buckeye,” Parks told Eleven Warriors.
Parks held off on making the decision public for another week, opting to have an announcement at his high school Sunday, but the 6-foot-10, 235-pound center is now the second member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class, joining four-star guard George Washington III.
The Parks File
- Class: 2023
- Size: 6-foot-10, 235 pounds
- Pos: C
- School: St. Marys Memorial (Saint Marys, Ohio)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: #148 overall, #18 center
After initially offering him back on June 28, 2021, Ohio State was among three finalists for Parks, who was also considering Indiana and West Virginia. The Buckeyes might have already been the frontrunners for the sixth-ranked player in Ohio by the start of 2022, but Parks wanted to take one final visit with Indiana on Jan. 9 before reaching a final verdict.
“Up before that, I only visited IU one time and OSU a couple times. I wanted to go back to IU for a game for the environment and talk with the coaches again before I jumped to conclusions to make sure what I was feeling was the right thing,” Parks said. “So after I visited IU, it was an awesome time, had a great experience, but overall OSU felt like the place for me.”
What made Ohio State stand out? The proximity to Parks’ hometown certainly didn’t hurt, and Parks said he was drawn to the plan Ohio State’s coaching staff laid out for how he would be utilized in the Buckeyes’ system once he arrives on campus.
|NAME||POSITION||OVERALL RANKING||POSITION RANKING||DATE OF COMMITMENT|
|GEORGE WASHINGTON||G||No. 46||No. 8||NOV. 3, 2021|
|AUSTIN PARKS||C||No. 148||No. 18||FEB. 13, 2022|
“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. “And at OSU, all the coaches made me feel like a priority and they made it clear how they would use me to my best ability, going through the bigs in their offense. Of course I did my research, I studied, I watched their games and they most definitely do go through their bigs and use them in the right way. And I’m excited about that.”
Even with Zed Key, E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young often operating as undersized fives for the Buckeyes over the course of the past two seasons, the Buckeyes have not shied away from establishing a post presence on offense. Although Liddell has moved out to sharpen his perimeter skills, he spent most of the 2020-21 season serving as a focal point of the Buckeye offense primarily from the interior, and Key is Ohio State’s third-leading scorer this year as a more traditional low-post operator.
Before that, 6-foot-9 big man Kaleb Wesson was the Buckeyes’ leading scorer and rebounder for two straight seasons as the unquestioned top player on both Holtmann’s 2018-19 and 2019-20 rosters.
Parks, who views his offensive repertoire in the post as his foremost strength at this stage, sees himself fitting into a similar mold as recent Buckeye bigs who have seen plenty of usage while playing a crucial role for Ohio State. But Parks also thinks he can take his game to the next level under the tutelage of the coaching staff in place in Columbus.
“I’m excited to see how much more advanced my game will become, because high school and college are a whole different level,” Parks said. “The way these coaches are gonna work with me and make me a better player, I’m just excited to see what I can do.”
Now with two commits in their 2023 class, Ohio State has more than any Big Ten program besides Purdue and Indiana, and the Buckeyes now have both a floor general and a versatile big man to build the rest of the class around.