Two months ago, Devin Royal appeared right at home playing on the main floor at the Schottenstein Center with Chris Holtmann and Jake Diebler looking on during Ohio State’s high school team camp.
Effectively ending his recruitment Wednesday with a commitment to Ohio State at his high school (Pickerington Central), Royal has now made it his home, as the four-star forward and top-75 prospect in the class of 2023 will remain in Columbus for his college basketball career.
Ohio State’s home arena won’t be nearly as empty as it was then when Royal suits up in scarlet and gray. But if everything goes according to plan in his development, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound frontcourt player might impress spectators just as much. Royal only continues to improve and add to his game following a busy summer that earned him widespread attention from top programs around the country.
Already a Division I state champion at the high school level, beating Centerville with a team-leading 20-point performance in the title game as a junior this past season with Pickerington Central, Royal could contribute to winning even more hardware in his home state as the Buckeyes continue to build momentum with a second straight stellar recruiting class.
On The Court
While Royal projects as a wing at the next level, he didn’t exactly start his basketball career as a perimeter-oriented player. In fact, that’s something he’s worked to add to his game as he’s tinkered with his repertoire to attract attention from elite programs around the nation.
Bigger than his peers growing up, Royal used that to his advantage on the interior, which helped him develop a level of physicality that will aid his game at any position. But in more recent appearances at the Kingdom League and Ohio State’s high school team camp over the summer, there’s little doubt Royal will be able to extend his game out to the 3-point line.
“Freshman year I was not versatile. I was kind of like a post player, but (my coaches) always told me to be versatile and work toward that, and (college) coaches would love it,” Royal said in June. “Just so on the court I can go one through four, guard one through four, play any position they need me to play.”
Despite being the biggest player on his team, Royal even ran the point for Pick Central in the Buckeyes’ team camp and didn’t look uncomfortable doing so. That isn’t the role Ohio State is likely to place him in next season and beyond, but it speaks to the improvements made by the rising talent this offseason.
Playing alongside Ohio State freshman point guard Bruce Thornton in the Kingdom League this summer, Royal had no trouble making plays without the ball in his hand, using his high motor and physical edge to crash the offensive glass and create putback opportunities. When he does have the ball, Royal is a natural slasher off the dribble, can face up in the high post, or even play with his back to the basket closer to the paint.
Royal can also knock down catch-and-shoot threes from the wing and said that's been a primary point of emphasis for him over the past several months.
Royal’s activity on defense has also been on display all summer, as the Ohio native has a penchant for creating turnovers and getting out in transition for dunks at the other end.
In The Class
Royal’s commitment broke a five-month drought of high school commits for the Buckeye program, with the last one before Wednesday taking place all the way back on Feb. 13 (St. Marys Memorial center Austin Parks).
But Ohio State was ahead of schedule when Parks, a four-star prospect and the No. 105 player in the country, announced his intentions to become a Buckeye. Three months before Parks’ commitment, four-star guard George Washington III was the first 2023 recruit to pledge to the Buckeyes, kickstarting the cycle with a top-60 prospect to build around in Ohio State’s haul.
The Buckeyes could afford a near-half-year hiatus in high school commitments because even before Royal’s announcement, their 2023 class ranked No. 9 in the country. But now with Royal in tow, the group only gets better as Ohio State has now received commitments from three of the top-five players in the state, per the 247Sports composite.
|C||–||ZED KEY||–||FELIX OKPARA||AUSTIN PARKS|
|PF||–||–||–||KALEN ETZLER (RS)||–|
SETH TOWNS (RS)
JUSTICE SUEING (RS)
|–||–||BRICE SENSABAUGH||DEVIN ROYAL|
|PG||ISAAC LIKEKELE (RS)||–||–||BRUCE THORNTON||GEORGE WASHINGTON|
Royal is the first wing of the class, pairing with the inside-outside duo of Washington and Parks, and he’s not likely to be the final player in the class for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will certainly take at least one more recruit in 2023, and may even take another depending on how things go moving forward.
Ohio State recently lost out on one of its top prospects in the class, as five-star Indianapolis power forward Xavier Booker committed to Michigan State on Saturday, but there could be more good news on the day for the Buckeyes following soon after Royal’s commitment.
Top-50 prospect Scotty Middleton, the sixth-rated small forward in the country and another one of the Buckeyes’ top targets, announces his commitment on Saturday. The Kansas native has Ohio State in his top three and could easily pair with Royal on the court given his aptitude to play guard.
The fit makes all the sense for Royal in joining his hometown college basketball program.
Royal has already developed a close friendship with Washington, his AAU teammate on All-Ohio Red this summer, whom he actually recruited to the unit upon hearing tell that the playmaking guard would be moving from Kentucky to Ohio for his senior season of high school hoops.
Washington in turn recruited Royal to join him on the Buckeye roster, and the pair will have plenty of rapport both on and off the court by the team their college careers kick off in 2023.
The connections don’t stop there, though, as Royal will have another former teammate on campus at Ohio State when he arrives next year. Sonny Styles, who won a state championship with Royal for Pick Central on the hardwood this past year, begins his freshman season with the Buckeye football team as a five-star safety prospect out of high school.
Perhaps Styles will give Royal the rundown about what life with the Buckeyes is like over the next year, but Royal may not even need it. He’s already spent plenty of time around Ohio State campus, developing relationships with Holtmann’s current roster and telling Eleven Warriors last month that he has “great chemistry” with Thornton and other Buckeye freshmen.