There have been games where Roddy Gayle has put up more points or more gaudy statistics. Coach Matt Bradshaw has seen them firsthand, but there is one in particular that he opted to send to college basketball programs in the hopes they would start recruiting the four-star shooting guard in the class of 2022.
In it, the 6-foot-4, 160-pound Gayle is impacting the game against a high-level opponent on multiple levels.
"This was a game he played fairly well against a quality opponent," Bradshaw told The Dispatch. "This was against the team that was going to the state (tournament). He did everything in that game. It showed his range. He attacked, he challenged somebody at the front of the rim, a guy 6-6 who maybe had 30 pounds on him and he rejected him. He was diving on the floor.
"Also in that game he head-butted somebody and cut his head open a little bit from a tooth or something and we bandaged him up and he went right back in. it kind of explains how he is."
The footage has done its job getting attention from Division I programs. Even with the sport at a standstill due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has led to the standout from Youngstown (New York) Lewiston Porter Senior landing new scholarship offers from some programs he’s seen and others he hasn’t.
Within the last week, Gayle has added offers from Ohio State, Xavier, Georgetown and UConn and has a Zoom meeting scheduled Tuesday with Louisville.
"Not too many schools have seen me play, so based off the one game my coach sends footage of to the schools, it’s crazy that off that one game coaches see the potential that I have," Gayle said. "It makes me want to go better and try even harder in every game and every practice just to eventually make it to the NBA."
College coaches aren’t permitted to directly contact members of the class of 2022 until June 15. Bradshaw handles the bulk of the communication within NCAA rules and has helped Gayle get out on a handful of unofficial visits during his sophomore season. Gayle said he took unofficial visits to Syracuse, Wake Forest, Rutgers and Ohio State, the latter of which was for a March 1 home game against Michigan.
The Buckeyes appeared on his radar, Gayle said, because he asked Bradshaw to send his game film to them for a couple of reasons.
"The location and the pros that actually left Ohio State," Gayle said. "Not only that, but the lifestyle of people that have been there. Ohio isn’t that far from me. It’s no more than five hours, so it’s pretty easy for my parents to come up and watch a home game. D’Angelo Russell, (Mike) Conley, that definitely played a part. Seeing stars like that and knowing that they come back and help train the players definitely helps make you a better basketball player."
As for the Ohio State trip itself, "The experience was crazy, especially during the game time," Gayle said. "We sat right by the fan section and it was a great experience. Everybody was into it: adults, children, students. Everybody was into the game and the atmosphere was crazy. It was a place I could see myself playing because I feed off of that type of energy."
It was Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler who saw Gayle’s film and reached out to Bradshaw, starting the relationship between the two sides.
"He likes their style of play, and so do I," Bradshaw said of the Buckeyes. "That’s what these visits get to do for us, they get us an up-and-close view of what their program is all about. I really like the way they run their offense. It’s physical, but they’re hard working. They use a lot of ball screens. The atmosphere there was phenomenal. Roddy’s a fan of the Big Ten, too. He likes Michigan, Michigan State, those hard-nosed coaches."
Gayle averaged 26 points per game as a sophomore, one year after helping the Lancers set a single-season record for wins while winning their first league title since 1985. 247Sports.com ranks him as the No. 42 overall recruit in his class, the No. 9 shooting guard in the country and the top recruit in his state.
With in-person recruiting and AAU season both on hold, Gayle’s chances to get out and visit more schools currently stand at zero. He was headed to the airport to join up with his AAU team when the sports world came to a halt, he said, and they turned the car around to return home. Gayle said the plan had been to take unofficial visits during the summer but that, since he doesn’t plan to pick a school until his senior year, the current disruption shouldn’t affect his timeline.
"I want to go to as many schools as I possibly can and weigh out my options and see what I like the most out of the schools, whether it’s academically or on the court or just the staff alone, the type of relationship I have with them," Gayle said. "Once I build a relationship with the coaches and weigh out my options of what I like both academically and on the court, then that’s when I’ll make my decision."