Devin Royal’s latest visit to Ohio State was of particular importance.
It may be the last one the rising Pickerington Central senior and high-priority Ohio State target takes to the Buckeye program before officially whittling down his top schools and arriving at a commitment decision.
The second-rated Ohio prospect and No. 76 overall recruit in the class of 2023 has long targeted the aftermath of the Peach Jam AAU tournament as a time period in which he’ll begin making tough choices about his recruitment. Just a couple weeks after spending the weekend on campus at Ohio State, Royal and his teammates on the All-Ohio Red AAU roster will head down to Augusta, Georgia, to compete in the week-long event that begins this Sunday.
“Now I’m just focused on Peach Jam. I got Kansas City this weekend then I got Peach Jam. So after that if I feel I need to take more (visits), I’ll take a couple more,” Royal said on July 3. “But I’m still gonna commit probably before my senior season in a couple months.”
Luckily for the Buckeyes, Royal had only positive things to say about his visit. The 6-foot-6 wing said he spent time bonding with the current Ohio State roster and got into specifics with the Buckeye coaching staff about how it plans to use him and what he can expect life to be like in the scarlet and gray program.
“I was with them all weekend so we got great chemistry,” Royal said. “So we’re cool and everything. … It was a good visit. I got to hangout with the team, check everything out, details about how I would play and what I would do when I get there. I think it just got more specific of what I’m gonna do there, what my role’s gonna be when I come there.”
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, there are plenty of other interested suitors competing for Royal’s talents as well. Just a couple weeks before his last visit to Ohio State, Royal took an official visit to Michigan State, which seems to be well-positioned as one of Royal’s top schools right alongside his hometown Buckeyes.
In fact, Royal didn’t make much of a delineation between the two Big Ten programs when asked to compare how both recent visits went.
“They both were good visits, great schools. It’s gonna be a hard decision to pick between all these schools I got, but it’s gonna be (good),” Royal said. “ I’m very blessed.”
Beyond Ohio State and Michigan State, Royal also holds offers from Illinois, Wisconsin, Miami, Alabama, Xavier and a host of other schools around the country. But one advantage the Buckeye program has over the others is its proximity to Royal, who has built relationships with members of the scarlet and gray roster after repeated run-ins.
Following his visit at Ohio State, Royal took the court alongside Buckeye freshman point guard Bruce Thornton at the Kingdom League at Ohio Dominican University on July 3. The pair already appeared to have plenty of on-court chemistry, with Thornton controlling the floor and Royal benefitting from his playmaking.
Putting forth standout performances in tandem during a winning effort against several more experienced veterans on the other side, it would be easy to envision the pair as teammates on the hardwood at the Schottenstein Center in 2023 and beyond.
It comes as little surprise that Thornton hopes that will be the case once Royal decides on a college landing spot.
“I love playing with Devin,” Thornton said after the aforementioned Kingdom League contest. “Great wing, high motor, I love playing with him. I feel like if he commits to Ohio State he’d be a great asset to us and he’ll be a pro one day.”
Royal, who began his high school career as more of a post-oriented player, only continues to round out his skill set as his national recruiting profile rises. Royal played some point guard for Pickerington Central during Ohio State’s high school team camp in June, and showed he could knock down spot-up 3-pointers as more of a traditional wing during Kingdom League action.
Royal said his 3-point stroke has been chief among the elements of his guy he has sought to improve in recent weeks.
“Just my shot, just how I’m improving in it, I’m shooting with more and more confidence,” Royal said. “I’m gonna have to do that a lot during the season. … I think it’s just confidence, I have a lot of confidence in myself and my shot and everything. I’m just working on my shot a lot, so I feel like that helped me a lot in this.”
With two commits already in Ohio State’s 2023 class (Royal’s AAU teammate George Washington III and St. Marys center Austin Parks), Royal would give the Buckeyes a third four-star prospect in the cycle. But Ohio State still has its sights set on other big-time recruits in case things don’t work out with the local product.
Kansas native Scotty Middleton, another 6-foot-6 forward and the No. 36 prospect in the class, has Ohio State on his top schools list and could be nearing a commitment decision in the coming weeks. The Buckeyes also have a long-standing relationship with top-75 power forward Xavier Booker, who Rivals has ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in 2023.
But the fit would certainly make sense at Ohio State for the Pickerington native, who has spent plenty of time around the program this summer ahead of his impending recruitment decisions.