Devin Royal was already firmly entrenched as a top priority target for Ohio State in the 2023 recruiting class. But when the Pickerington Central forward walked into the Buckeyes’ practice gym on June 9 flanked by Chris Holtmann and Jake Diebler on either side of him, that fact was only reaffirmed.
The trio showed up to watch the first set of games at Ohio State’s high school camp, and the matchup of interest pit Columbus Africentric against Reynoldsburg. The contest featured Royal’s AAU teammate (All-Ohio Red) and fellow 2023 Buckeye target Dailyn Swain, who put on an impressive performance in front of the crowd.
Royal hit the hardwood next, but did so on the main court at the Schottenstein Center in a matchup with another high-profile recruit. The 6-foot-6 small forward went head-to-head with 6-foot-11 Cathedral High School forward Xavier Booker, and Royal enjoyed plenty of success against the fast-rising big man.
Two big-time recruits going head to head here, Devin Royal blows by top-100 23 PF Xavier Booker for the dunk: pic.twitter.com/XXKlRwqMrY— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2022
Unfortunately for Royal, he turned his ankle on an aggressive take to the basket in the second half of the contest and didn’t return to action thereafter. Cathedral got the win, but Royal confirmed with members of the media afterward that he only expected the injury to be a short-term situation.
Royal discussed his summer schedule, his recruitment in general and his relationship with the Ohio State coaching staff – among other things – in his post-game conversation with the media. You can check out everything Royal said at Ohio State camp below.
This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
Q: You left the game with an apparent ankle injury, how are you feeling now?
Royal: I’m fine. I’ll be straight, I just gotta put some ice on it.
Q: How were you feeling before the injury and how would you assess your play today?
Royal: I feel like I was playing good. I was really about to dunk that. I’m not gonna lie, I was really about to dunk that and then I messed up my ankle. But it’ll be fine, it’s just a little sprain.
Q: How did you think you did going against four-star 2023 power forward Xavier Booker?
Royal: I think I did pretty good. I think we could’ve done better as a team, but I think we did pretty good.
Q: Being on the national stage the last few months, have you stacked up against the competition the way you expected to?
Royal: I feel like I deserved it. I feel like I’ve been working a lot throughout the summer, throughout last year, so I feel like it would come sooner or later. So my day has come sooner than I thought, so it was good.
Q: What part of your game has improved the most over the summer?
Royal: Just being more versatile, just doing everything on the court that they need me to do. If I can’t shoot then go inside, if I can’t go inside then shoot. Just doing everything I need to do.
Q: What was going through your mind when you were named a top-30 player at the recent Pangos camp in Las Vegas?
Royal: That felt pretty good. I didn’t play as well as I should’ve, I felt I played pretty decent though. I felt pretty good about it.
Q: How did you feel about your AAU team’s performance at the latest EYBL weekend in Louisville?
Royal: It was good. We wanted to come in and go 5-0. That was our goal. We locked in and worked hard on it. We practiced before. We went 4-1 and came up a little short, but it was still good for us.
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
Q: What does it feel like to go through this process where you continue to climb the recruiting rankings and hear from more and more college programs?
Royal: It feels good, just shows me I have to work hard and get better every day to get higher and higher to where I need to be at.
Q: Have you wanted to narrow down your list of schools at any point during this process?
Royal: It’s kind of already narrowed down a little bit. I try to put a list out and then more schools contact me and call me. Hopefully I can narrow it down after the Peach Jam (in July). That’s my goal. I won’t say it’s stressful. I’m used to it with coaches calling me. I’m very grateful for it and blessed for it.
Q: Is it more exciting or stressful to have to keep adding to your offer list?
Royal: I wouldn’t say it’s stressful because I’m used to it now, a lot of coaches call me and stuff like that. I’m very grateful for it and blessed for it.
Q: What are you looking for when you go on official visits?
Royal: Just seeing the vibe from coaches and seeing how they react to me. I look to see if I could fit there and I look at their playing style. … Just my relationship with the coaches, just seeing everything, how campus is, how it feels to be there, does it feel like home, stuff like that.
Q: Has your relationship with Ohio State remained consistent throughout the summer?
Royal: It’s been great. I got a great relationship with them, they’ve always been great to me. … I think the Fourth of July (I’m going to visit Ohio State).
Q: Your former Pickerington Central teammate Sonny Styles got on campus at Ohio State this week. Have you talked with him at all recently?
Royal: He loves me, he always loved it here, so I’m proud of him. I haven’t really talked to him but I just know he likes it here and stuff like that, he’s excited. No (he hasn’t tried to recruit me here).
Q: Have you talked to Ohio State’s other 2023 commits about why they made their decision?
Royal: I haven’t really talked to them that much to be honest with you. George (Washington III) is always trying to recruit me, playing on the same AAU team. But we haven’t talked that much about it.
Q: Some recruits would rather stay close to home and others prefer to go far away. What is your preference?
Royal: To be honest, for me, it doesn’t matter the distance or anything like that. I’m looking for the best fit for me and the best opportunity for me to do what I want to do.
Q: How important is the versatility of your game, and have you always been a versatile player?
Royal: Freshman year I was not versatile. I was kind of like a versatile, but (my coaches) always told me to be versatile and work toward that, and (college) coaches would love it. Just so on the court I can go one through four, guard one through four, play any position they need me to play.