Basketball Recruiting Notebook: Scotty Middleton to Commit Aug. 6; Devin Royal, Taison Chatman And Assane Diop Put Ohio State on Top Schools Lists

By Griffin Strom on July 20, 2022 at 8:35 am
Devin Royal, Scotty Middleton
Instagram/@dev.royall/@marskimedia, @scottt.middleton/@dfritzphotos

The recruiting trail is heating up for Ohio State as the summer wears on.

The Buckeyes have not received a commitment from a scholarship recruit out of high school since February, but that may very well change in the next several weeks. A number of Ohio State’s top targets have released top schools lists and commitment dates with the Peach Jam tournament marking the apex of the national AAU circuit this week.

Below we take a look at which recruits have kept Ohio State’s name in the mix as they’ve announced their top schools, and which prospects may be close to making a final decision. We also run down the latest offers coming from Chris Holtmann and the Ohio State coaching staff in both the 2023 and 2024 cycles.

OSU makes Royal’s top nine

As expected, the Buckeye made the top schools list for Pickerington Central forward and top-100 2023 prospect Devin Royal on Monday. The 6-foot-6 wing and No. 2-ranked player in Ohio has long been a top target for Holtmann and company, although Royal’s long list of options suggests he is still considering plenty of other schools as his recruitment continues.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State all made Royal’s list as well. Royal visited the Spartans in mid-June, and along with Ohio State, the Tom Izzo-led program seems to be among the favorites to potentially land his services at the next level.

“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),” said Royal, who subsequently took an official visit at Ohio State in early July. “I’m very blessed.”

Royal also included Alabama, Ole Miss, Clemson, Miami and Marquette on his list. The 210-pound forward said he plans to announce a commitment ahead of his senior season of high school basketball.

For now, Royal is participating in the Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia with his All-Ohio Red teammates. One of Royal’s AAU teammates is four-star combo guard George Washington III, who was the Buckeyes’ first commit in the 2023 class back in November 2021.

Middleton to commit Aug. 6

Ohio State fans may be more familiar with Royal due to his close proximity to the program, but another top 2023 small forward target for the Buckeyes is nearing a college commitment as well.

A four-star prospect and the 36th overall recruit in the country, Scotty Middleton put Ohio State in his top five schools along with Kansas, UConn, Seton Hall and Texas A&M when he recently announced he’ll make his decision on Aug. 6. The Wichita, Kansas, product told 247Sports this week he is now down to just Ohio State, Seton Hall and UConn, eliminating Kansas and Texas A&M from consideration.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, Middleton has a long wiry frame and is considered one of the top defenders in his class. The Buckeye coaching staff believes the rising high school senior at Sunrise Christian Academy can play multiple positions at the next level, Middleton told Eleven Warriors back in April.

“They just tell me they like my versatility and how I can play the one through three,” Middleton said at an AAU event in Indianapolis. “So I don’t really have like a position (I have) to play at Ohio State if I go there, or any school I go to.”

Middleton, who has mostly played with the Brad Beal Elite AAU program on the national circuit this summer, visited the Buckeyes back in March, but subsequently took trips to both Seton Hall and Connecticut in June. 

“Ohio State, my visit was really good. Coach (Jake) Diebler, Coach Holtmann, they do a great job with their players development-wise, player-wise, too,” Middleton said. “The campus is really good, the really thing I put them on the list for is probably because the family in between the players. The old players that played there, during the summer the guys come back, they can play runs with the players, teach the players, stuff like that.”

Booker to announce top schools next week

Depending on the recruiting site, Xavier Booker can be considered the top-rated prospect Ohio State is actively pursuing in the 2023 class. While Booker is No. 60 in the 247Sports composite rankings, Rivals has the 6-foot-11 Indianapolis center pegged as a five-star recruit and the No. 2 player in the country.

The Buckeyes have ingratiated themselves with Booker over the course of the past year, and that work on the recruiting trail just might pay dividends when the versatile forward announces his top schools on July 25.

While the Cathedral High School product is a near 7-footer, he told members of the media at Ohio State’s high school team camp last month that the Buckeye coaching staff thinks he could play either forward position.

“They like that I’m a versatile big and they compared me to E.J. Liddell,” Booker said. “Just the stuff E.J. Liddell did for Ohio State, they can see me doing the same thing.”

Booker said in June that Ohio State is “definitely impressive” to him and he has a “strong relationship” with Holtmann and Diebler. That notion will be put to the test Monday when Booker reveals which schools are in the mix to land his services ahead of his senior season.

Chatman puts OSU in top five

A top-50 2023 prospect and the No. 11 combo guard in the country placed the Buckeyes among his top five schools over the weekend. Six-foot-4, 170-pound Taison Chatman, the top-rated recruit in the state of Minnesota, is considering the scarlet and gray alongside Kansas, Virginia, Minnesota and Xavier.

Chatman hails from Totino-Grace High School in Minneapolis, and should he opt to stay home, he’d be the Gophers’ highest-rated recruit since 2009 (Royce White, No. 26 overall).

Of course, the Buckeyes already have a combo guard in their 2023 class, as the aforementioned Washington ranks just 15 spots below Chatman in the overall 247Sports composite rankings. But Ohio State will likely take four prospects in its 2023 class, which would allow another top recruit to pair with Washington in the Buckeye backcourt.

Bucks make Diop's top eight

Another highly-touted big in the 2023 class considering the Buckeyes is Assane Diop, who told On3's Joe Tipton Tuesday that Ohio State is among his top schools.

Listed at 6-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Diop is the No. 81 prospect in the 247Sports composite and the 11th-ranked center in the class. The product of Denver's Accelerated Schools is the second-ranked prospect in the state of Colorado.

Diop is also considering Auburn, Arkansas, BYU, Seton Hall, Kansas State, Arizona State and Colorado, according to the report.

Ohio State already has a four-star center in its 2023 cycle with Austin Parks, but given its interest in Booker and Diop, it's clear Holtmann and company aren't shying away from adding even more size to the frontcourt in next year's freshman class.

Latest offers in 2023, 2024

Ohio State has extended a number of offers to players in both the 2023 and 2024 classes over the past several weeks. One such prospect is an in-state recruit from Cincinnati, 6-foot-10 2024 center Raleigh Burgess out of Sycamore High School. 

Four-star Eddyville, Kentucky point guard Travis Perry received an offer from the Buckeyes on June 27. Perry ranks No. 70 overall in the class of 2024 and is the No. 2 recruit in his state, although he already has a couple 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions to end up with the Wildcats.

The same day, Holtmann and company offered four-star 2023 power forward TJ Power, a Massachusetts native and the No. 65 prospect in the cycle. Power is listed at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds and is the top-rated player in his home state.

Most recently, Ohio State sent an offer out to top-100 2023 combo guard Elmarko Jackson from South Kent, Connecticut. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Jackson is the No. 90 player in the country and the third-rated recruit in Connecticut.

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