The 2023 recruiting class is shaping up to be a special one for Ohio State.
On Wednesday, Chris Holtmann landed the first Columbus-area recruit of his tenure with the Buckeyes when he earned the commitment of four-star forward Devin Royal out of Pickerington Central. On Sunday, Holtmann secured a commitment from a prospect who could end up being the highest-ranked recruit he’s landed at Ohio State.
Scotty Middleton, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound wing out of Wichita, Kansas, chose the Buckeyes over UConn and Seton Hall, which means the No. 34 overall player in the country will suit up in scarlet and gray following his senior season of high school. Should that ranking hold, Middleton would be tied with DJ Carton (2019) as the highest-ranked prospect Holtmann has landed in any one class.
The Buckeyes already had a top-five class in the country even before Middleton came aboard, but the addition of the Miami native only bolsters its status further.
Ohio State is fresh off of signing its best recruiting class under Holtmann to date in 2022, with four top-65 prospects entering the fold as part of a five-man haul overall. But the 2023 class may end up being even more impressive when all is said and done, and Middleton could be the centerpiece of it all.
On the Court
Listed as the No. 6 small forward in the country, the Buckeye coaching staff actually likes Middleton more at guard, as the lanky prospect spends much of his time on the perimeter.
Middleton can handle the ball, shoot from the outside and dish assists, but his skill set is far from limited to that of just a backcourt player. Middleton’s length gives him the ability to slash to the rim be an effective rebounder on both sides of the floor, and it’s his penchant for doing it all that made him such an alluring prospect for the Buckeyes.
“They just tell me they like my versatility and how I can play the one through three,” Middleton told Eleven Warriors in April. “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’s defensive prowess may be his most appealing trait, as he uses his long limbs and active hands to corral steals that turn into transition buckets at the other end. Middleton’s wingspan also makes him an effective shot-blocker at the high school level.
A multi-positional offensive force, Middleton’s ability to guard several positions on the other end may be just as valuable as he transitions into Big Ten competition in 2023.
In the Class
Middleton is the fourth commit in the Buckeyes’ 2023 class, joining a group of players who are all ranked within the top 105 players in the country. Middleton is the highest-ranked of the bunch and the first top-50 recruit in the class for Holtmann and company.
George Washington III, the No. 60 player in the class and Ohio State’s first commit in the cycle, was previously the top-rated prospect in the group. Royal ranks 73rd overall in the cycle and St. Marys Memorial center Austin Parks, a 6-foot-10 big man, is ranked 105th.
Ohio State already has one small forward in the class in the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Royal, but the Buckeyes believe Middleleton will pair perfectly on the court with the Pickerington native given his perimeter-based skills and potential to play guard.
|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|
With Washington, Royal and Parks all playing their senior seasons of high school basketball in Ohio, Middleton is now the lone out-of-state commit in Ohio State’s 2023 class. Washington, who is originally from Texas, committed to the Buckeyes last November when he still lived in Louisville, but has since moved to Dayton to play at Chaminade Julienne for his final year of high school hoops.
Ohio State could cap its class at four, players having now landed two of its top 2023 targets in the past week alone. However, the coaching staff isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding a fifth player to the class depending on the circumstances.
Four-star Africentric wing Dailyn Swain, an AAU teammate of Washington and Royal, placed the Buckeyes inside his top five programs alongside Clemson, Arkansas, Xavier and Arizona State on Friday.
Middleton is Holtmann’s first commit from the state of Kansas. While some assumed Bill Self and the Jayhawks would lock down the product of Wichita’s Sunrise Christian High School, Middleton didn’t even include Kansas among his top three schools ahead of Saturday’s announcement.
First offered by the Buckeyes this past January, Middleton visited Ohio State a little over five weeks later and was struck by the tight-knit nature of the program.
“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 in April. “The campus is really good, the real 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.”
Soon Middleton will get to call Columbus home and join the proverbial family that Holtmann and company have built at the Schottenstein Center and beyond.