Four-star 2022 guard Roddy Gayle Jr. commits to Ohio State

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Roddy Gayle of Lewiston-Porter High School in New York

The lights dropped at Value City Arena, and Matt Bradshaw could see the look in Roddy Gayle Jr.’s eyes.

The date was March 1, 2020, and Ohio State was hosting Michigan in a showdown of two top-25 teams. A sellout crowd was on hand, and that included Gayle, a four-star guard prospect from Youngstown (New York) Lewiston Porter Senior in the class of 2022.

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The Buckeyes would blow past the Wolverines, 77-63, helping them build momentum toward an NCAA Tournament that ultimately would never be played – but it wasn’t Ohio State’s only win that day. Eight months later, Gayle has announced his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, citing that experience as a pivotal moment in his recruitment.

“That was great,” Gayle told The Dispatch. “Because of that, that reason alone, it kind of pushed me to make this decision that I’m making because I’ve already been to the school and I already know what to expect and I already know what being in that gym during gameday is like.

“The crowd was crazy. The atmosphere, I could barely hear myself speak. It was a great experience.”

Friday evening, Gayle publicly announced his decision to commit to Ohio State. He had narrowed his list of schools to six finalists: Marquette, Syracuse, Ohio State, Pitt, Georgetown and UConn. The 6-4 ½, 200-pound Gayle is the top prospect from his state, the No. 7 shooting guard in the nation and the overall No. 76 national recruit according to the composite rankings.

Bradshaw said he could tell the Buckeyes were making an impression even before the Michigan game officially got underway.

“What an atmosphere,” the coach said. “I knew just from looking at Roddy when the lights went out and the teams went out on the floor, he was, ‘Woah.’ They toured the facilities and gave us as much as they could on an unofficial. Sat right behind the bench. What bigger game can you go to than an OSU-Michigan, you know?”

The two talked a lot about the experience during the five-hour drive home. Within two weeks, the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all recruiting visits were paused. It meant Gayle’s recruitment would shift to the virtual world, where coaches would have to try and build relationships from a distance.

Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler, Gayle’s primary recruiter, and head coach Chris Holtmann then set themselves apart to Gayle, who had initially been planning to wait until he could take more visits to more schools.

“I just figured, what’s the point in waiting that long if I know this is where I want to be?” Gayle said. “What helped me was how much time they put into it. Coach Diebler and coach Holtmann call me every day or every other day, plus we’ve had a lot of Zoom calls about the school, about how they want to use me as a basketball player and the type of development that they have.”

Gayle is listed as a shooting guard by 247Sports but projects more as a wing who might primarily play as a small forward. His versatility was something Bradshaw said helps separate Gayle from his peers and also helped with his appeal to Ohio State.

“They’re getting a kid who could conceivably play three positions,” he said. “He’s a 2, but they’re looking at him to play some 1 and some 3, so versatility on the court is what I’d say they’re getting from Roddy. He’s go the ability to set the table for others, he’s got the ability to score from every level.”

Both Gayle and Bradshaw cited seeing a player like D’Angelo Russell go to Ohio State, develop and move onto the next level as factoring into the decision as well.

“They spent a lot of time Zoom-calling him and showing him what they do with their guards and how they get their guards to be better,” Bradshaw said. “They do a great job of showing Roddy what they are going to do to get him better. I believe in that. I believe they do a good job of developing.

“They’re not the blue bloods. They’re not the Dukes, the Carolinas, the Kentuckys. In order for them to compete, they get these kids and they develop them and that’s how they’re able to compete with those schools. I’m very confident in this choice. I’m very confident in Ohio State to get Roddy where he needs to be, not just on the court but in the classroom as well.”

Gayle is the second player to commit to Ohio State’s class of 2022. He joins Cincinnati Princeton shooting guard Bowen Hardman, who is rated as the No. 4 recruit from Ohio, the No. 23 national recruit at his position and the overall No. 149 prospect.

With the addition of Gayle, Hardman and Malaki Branham in the class of 2021, as well as 2020 addition Gene Brown III, the Buckeyes will be bringing in a number of perimeter players while facing significant attrition at the position. When Gayle and Hardman get to campus, Ohio State is expected to have graduated the likes of Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens, Musa Jallow, Justice Sueing, Jimmy Sotos and Seth Towns.