Growing up an Ohio State football fan, Devin Royal was plenty familiar with the Buckeyes.
He’s played the last three seasons on the Pickerington Central High School boy’s basketball team, helping lead the Tigers to a state championship in March. While chasing a championship, Royal also saw his recruitment pick up steam, gaining more than a dozen offers and narrowing his choices to Alabama, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Royal reached a decision in his recruitment Aug. 3, verbally committing to the university just 30 minutes away from his home court.
“I think it’ll mean a lot just to leave a legacy behind coming from high school to college and still being at home,” Royal said. “I feel like it’ll mean a lot for everybody in the community.”
According to two Rivals, Royal ranks as a four-star small forward and the No. 87 overall player in the class of 2023.
His commitment kick-started an eventful week for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, which traveled to the Bahamas and picked up a pair of summer exhibition wins over the Egyptian and Puerto Rican national teams 72-68 Saturday and 75-68 Sundayrespectively.
The Buckeyes then gained their fourth verbal commitment in the class of 2023 when Scotty Middleton chose Ohio State over Kansas, Seton Hall, Texas A&M and UConn Sunday.
The two commitments show the traction head coach Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes coaching staff have made on the recruiting trail. Royal said Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler recruited him the most, but he’s built a bond with Holtmann for some time in his prep career.
“That’s a great relationship,” Royal said. “He’s been recruiting me for a while, supporting me, coming to my games, stuff like that, so it’s a great relationship with him.”
Pickerington Central is also familiar territory to Ohio State.
Royal joins Jae’Sean Tate, who also played for the Tigers, in choosing the Buckeyes when the latter made his decision as part of the recruiting class of 2014.
Shannon Cornell, Royal’s mother, said it’s “really, really huge” that she trusts both the Ohio State program and her son in making the right choice in Royal’s recruiting process, which she felt “really, really happy” upon his nod to the Buckeyes .
“I’ve enjoyed the fact that he continues to put in hard work,” Cornell said. “That’s really what’s exciting because you try to teach your children how hard work pays off, right, in the end, and I love it when they’re able to actually see that.”
Daryl Royal said he’s watched Devin Royal wake up at 5:30 most mornings to attend workouts and dedicate time to becoming a better basketball player. He said his son “knows the pressure of picking the hometown” program, but the payoff is what feels best.
“I love him to be able to see the rewards of the hard work that he put in,” Daryl Royal said. “A lot of times, kids put in a lot of hard work but don’t get the rewards. For him, being offered by Ohio State and then now, and then another year be playing there, I think it’s just a blessing and beautiful thing.”
Before Devin Royal becomes a Buckeye, he said he’s focused on helping Pickerington Central defend its state championship and furthering his development during his senior year.
“Just do what the coaches need me to do to win. I mean, I think we’ll go back to back this year. I really believe that,” Devin Royal said. “We got a great team, a lot of talent on our team, so I feel like we’ll be good.”