Entering the second session of Nike EYBL play last weekend, Devin Royal still didn’t have a ranking in the 247Sports composite.
That changed by the end of the event, as the class of 2023 small forward from Pickerington Central High School proved himself well worthy of four-star status and a top-100 overall rating after more than one eye-opening performance in Indianapolis.
Now the fourth-ranked player in Ohio and the No. 86 prospect in his class, Royal earned third-team All-EYBL honors for his latest efforts in the AAU circuit, which included both a 28-point showcase and another 22-point outburst in his first two games of the four-contest slate.
Royal already had the undivided attention of the Ohio State coaching staff, which recently showed up in full at an at-home visit with the high school junior. But after averaging 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds for All-Ohio Red in Indianapolis, the Buckeyes are likely to have even more competition on the recruiting trail.
Last Saturday, Royal listed Xavier, Marquette, Michigan State and Penn State among the schools that had been giving him the most attention, but the number of programs showing interest in the 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward has only increased since then.
Royal earned offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers and Missouri all in the last week alone, and Tom Izzo and the coaching staffs for the Spartans, Penn State and Florida State have all conducted at-home visits with the versatile frontcourt player in the same timespan.
Look who flew in tonight to see @DevinRoyal7 my Guy Coach Tom Izzo who Ive had the pleasure of knowing for over 20+ years. It was a great visit with the family. When the goat comes to town you listen. pic.twitter.com/YpqCXRCMTK— Coach George Howard (@glhoward109) April 26, 2022
But the Buckeye program will hope it has a head start on the hometown prospect, who is already playing alongside one future Ohio State player in his same class this spring. In fact, it was Royal that asked George Washington III – a top-50 overall prospect and the first commit in Ohio State’s 2023 class – to join forces with All-Ohio Red for this year’s AAU circuit.
“I knew he wasn’t going to JL3 no more, I heard he was coming out here, so I tried to text him to tell him to come out here,” Royal said about Washington, who will move from Kentucky to Ohio after his father landed a job on the Dayton women’s basketball coaching staff.
The text worked, and now the tandem looks rather formidable on the floor. Royal’s aforementioned numbers were impressive enough, but Washington averaged 16 points per game to lead all players for All-Ohio Red in Indianapolis, scoring at least 20 points on two occasions while facilitating for Royal and others in the process.
Now developing a close relationship on and off the hardwood, Washington joked that it’s only right for him to now recruit Royal to join him at Ohio State.
“I mean yeah, I think that’s like the fair deal,” Washington said. “I think that’s the only way to even things out.”
While it’s clear the Buckeyes have their sights set on Royal, they’re also keeping a close eye on multiple other players at similar positions in the 2023 class including Dailyn Swain, who plays with Royal and Washington on All-Ohio Red. A junior at Africentric, the 6-foot-6 Swain ranks seven spots ahead of Royal as the No. 14 small forward in the class, and two places ahead among Ohio prospects as No. 2 in the state.
Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler also watched top-50 overall prospect Scotty Middleton in person over the weekend, as the nation’s No. 9 small forward was also present in Indianapolis to play for Brad Beal Elite. Just a day before games began, Middleton put Ohio State in his top five along with Seton Hall, Kansas, Texas Tech and UConn.
In terms of how they operate on the floor for All-Ohio Red, Swain is more of a perimeter-oriented forward on offense, handling the ball much more than Royal and often slashing to the rim or making plays for others. Royal does some of that, but also plays with a physical edge inside, where he can post or face up on defenders and also create problems on the glass.
If the EYBL kept track of dunks over the weekend, Royal would figure to be among the event’s leaders, as he had no problem finishing with authority at the rim on numerous occasions, whether out of a halfcourt set or when running the floor in transition. But Royal also showed he can stretch the floor when called upon to do so, hitting a couple 3-pointers in an aspect of his game he is still polishing at this stage.
Devin Royal has been dunking the ball left and right this weekend, but shows his range here with a 3 on a George Washington assist: pic.twitter.com/i8W702Zx7S— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) April 23, 2022
Royal said it’s his multi-position potential that intrigues Ohio State in particular, and it’s easy to see why.
“Just how they love me, how I’m versatile, they really want me,” Royal said. “I feel good about them, it's a great school.”
All three 2023 targets at the small forward position possess the ability to play more than one spot, but Royal’s inside presence and wider frame make him stand out with a potential to play power forward before stretching out to small forward – similar to the trajectory E.J. Liddell took at Ohio State.
Royal said he won’t be announcing a top schools list for a few months, as he plans to wait until after the EYBL Peach Jam in late July to collect his thoughts on the matter. After that, Royal plans to announce a commitment decision before his senior season begins at Pickerington Central.