His football prowess is well-documented.
Ohio-born five-star prospect Sonny Styles has already emerged as the top priority for Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2023. A freak athlete at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Styles already has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and many more. Possessing the raw athletic ability to thrive at either safety or linebacker in college, Styles is the 13th-best player in the 2023 class and the best safety, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
That’s all been pretty well-established.
But privately, Styles has wanted to be rewarded for his basketball success, as well. Playing for All Ohio Red 16U on the AAU circuit, the Pickerington Central High School standout held his own against the nation’s top basketball prospects at the EYBL Peach Jam in Augusta, South Carolina from earlier this month. In five games, Styles averaged 12 points and seven rebounds.
“It speaks to the kind of athlete he is,” said All Ohio Red coach Devin Howard. “He really can do it all. It speaks to his competitive nature and will. He’s a guy that doesn’t like to lose, at all. For him to be able to compete at a high level in both sports, it speaks to what kind of kid he is on and off the court.”
Styles is finally seeing the fruits of his labor on the hardwood, picking up basketball offers from Akron, Toledo, Duquesne, Kent State and Ohio all within the last week. At his current pace, he may very well pick up two more offers by the time you finish reading this piece.
“I kind of understand with some of the offers I have with football, a lot of basketball coaches probably weren’t going to get an offer out to me,” Styles told Eleven Warriors Tuesday. “But there’s been a few coaches that have (offered) the past few days, and it really means a lot to me for them to even take a chance.”
While those close to Styles will tell you he loves basketball more than most realize, football is his first love, having played organized ball since he was five years old. His father is a former Ohio State linebacker. His brother Lorenzo Styles Jr. plays wide receiver for Notre Dame. It’s inevitable he’s going to play college football for someone and even said he prefers that sport over basketball. It’s just a question of if he’s going to play collegiate basketball, too.
“I’m not really sure,” Styles said of the prospect of being a multi-sport athlete. “I’m really trying to figure it out. Doing one sport is tough, so doing two would be even harder. I’m still trying to figure out how I want to do that.”
But Styles does want to try it. Or at the very least, have conversations with his prospective schools about it. He confirmed to Eleven Warriors that he has had those talks with several colleges, including two schools rumored to be near the top of his list, Notre Dame and Ohio State, but declined to reveal the specifics of those discussions.
“Yeah, I’ve talked to a few schools about it,” he said. “Those two being included. It’s definitely a possibility for me.”
Styles may get his shot at Ohio State if he’s truly dedicated to playing both sports. By now, most of you know 2021 mega-prospect J.T. Tuimoloau has also talked to Ohio State about playing both football and basketball, though whether or not he ever sees the court is a different story. The Buckeyes have also extended a dual-sport offer to top 2023 recruit Lebbeus Overton.
Any offer Styles could potentially receive from Chris Holtmann would be entirely merit-based, according to Howard, who also coaches Styles as an assistant coach at Pickerington Central.
“I honestly think he can play at the highest level,” Howard said. “I don’t like to compare too many guys, but I’ve definitely seen some guys who have played in the Big Ten, ACC and SEC that he’s very comparable to, and he’s probably better than. Honestly with him being a football guy already, if he put his sole focus into basketball he could definitely be a four or five-star kid if he wanted to be.”
In an elimination game on July 21 against Team Durant, Styles took over the game coming off the bench, scoring 18 points in 24 minutes of action while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists in All Ohio Red's 70-63 win.
“The second half, the game was stagnant, they were going back and forth and battling, he just came in and provided the spark and said ‘We’re not going to lose,’” Howard said. “It was a win or go home situation. He took the game over.”
Styles confirmed he will be at Ohio State’s BBQ for recruits this week and said he’s looking forward to seeing his peers.
“I think it will be pretty cool to see the other recruits,” Styles said. “That’s something I haven’t really gotten to do that much. I’ve seen a lot of different schools, but a lot of dudes I’ve met along the recruiting cycle, a lot of them are going to be there.”
The talented defender doesn’t know when a commitment will come, but did say he wanted to give his verbal before his senior season.
Recruits start arriving in Columbus
As previously mentioned, this week is another big recruiting opportunity for the Buckeyes as the football staff is hosting a BBQ for recruits in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 classes on Thursday. Some recruits have already arrived or are eagerly anticipating their arrival.
We back Thursday !! https://t.co/01Eu6FKthG— Ty Lockwood (@TyLockwood7) July 27, 2021
Back at home tomorrow #GoBucks— CJ KING Hicks (@imcjhicks) July 28, 2021
COLUMBUS!!— Kenyatta Jackson Jr (@_21shotz) July 28, 2021
Bck in Columbus !!! #GoBuckeyes— Richard Young (@richardyoung239) July 28, 2021
Nobody in attendance is on major commitment watch as far as we know, but with how these things go, you never know.
In case you missed it, here’s an updated list of who’s expected to visit campus this week. Visitors listed have either been confirmed from our own intel, reported by other outlets or announced by the recruits themselves they’d be coming.
- 2022: Bennett Christian (TE), C.J. Hicks (LB), Kenyatta Jackson (DE), Kaleb Brown (WR), Tegra Tshabola (OL), Ryan Turner (DB)
- 2023: Anthony Brown (WR), Payton Kirkland (OL), Ty Lockwood (TE), Derrick LeBlanc (DL), Richard Young (RB), TJ Shanahan (OL), Nicholaus Iamaleava (QB), Clay Wedin (OL), Luke Montgomery (OL), Joshua Padilla (OL), Malik Muhammad (DB), Sonny Styles (ATH), Ta’Mere Robinson (DB), Jayden Limar (RB), Elliot Washington (DB), Moussa Kane (DB), Tyriq Blanding (DL)
- 2024: Edwin Spillman (LB), Jadyn Davis (QB)
A quick programming note: I will be in Nashville starting tomorrow until Sunday night, so this will be my last Hurry-Up of the week until Monday. However, there will be a feature dropping tomorrow on one of the expected attendees of the BBQ. Not exactly ideal to time a vacation during a big recruiting weekend, but that’s what happens when you plan things out three months in advance, folks. If anything breaks in the meantime, Eleven Warriors will have you covered.
OSU targets receive preseason honors
It’s not only preseason watch list season at the college level, but at the high school level, as well.
MaxPreps released its 2021 Preseason Junior All-America High School team Wednesday afternoon. Several familiar faces are on it, including Rueben Owens, Richard Young, Brandon Inniss, Luke Hasz, Kadyn Proctor, TJ Shanahan and plenty more.
The complete team can be found here.