Buckeyes offer scholarship to 2023 Pickerington Central forward Devin Royal

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Pickerington Central sophomore Devin Royal tries to block a shot from Newark senior Kade Bafford. The Wildcats lost 52-30 on the road on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.

When he got to Ohio State’s campus around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Devin Royal thought he knew what was coming.

A junior at Pickerington Central, Royal had already taken one unofficial visit to check out the Buckeyes in addition to numerous other trips to visit family or participate in summer team camps. So while Ohio State had been showing increased recruiting interest, the expectation was that the trip would be a chance to be shown around and see more of the campus. Instead, Royal and his mother were invited to coach Chris Holtmann’s office for some news.

The Buckeyes were offering the 6-6, 210-pound Royal a scholarship, adding to a recent string that has also seen Marquette and Xavier offer within the last week.

“(The Ohio State coaches) were just talking about what they need in the team, versatility and other stuff I can work on and that they’re very excited to offer me,” Royal said Monday night after Central’s open gym session. “They want to offer me hard, I’m a city kid, stuff like that. I feel that I earned those offers I get because I’ve been working hard. I just feel blessed and relieved because my hard work is paying off.”

Penn State, Dayton, Ohio, Toledo and roughly a dozen others have also offered Royal, who according to averaged 12.5 points in 13 games last season for the Tigers. Unranked in the composite database, Royal is listed as the No. 6 recruit from Ohio in his class by

Central coach Eric Krueger said Royal came into his own during his sophomore season and carried that into the summer, where he excelled while playing AAU basketball as well as in team camps with the Tigers.

“Devin was really taking it to another level,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’m surprised, because even as a sophomore he definitely had the ability to become a high-major kid. This summer, his body’s changing and he’s putting it all together.”

Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler has been his primary recruiter, Royal said. Holtmann and multiple assistants have made several visits to Central during the last few months, Krueger said, putting in work and getting to know Royal before offering him.

“Coach Diebler, he’s a great guy,” Royal said. “He believes in me a lot. He talks to me a lot. It’s great to have a relationship with him.”

While Royal continues to work on his ball handling and overall game at both ends, Krueger described the forward as a versatile athlete who can score at all three levels.

“We’re going to put him in a lot of positions to be successful all over the floor,” he said. “The ball in his hands, he’s really expanded his game and developed into a full-blown wing. Being on the perimeter more now, it’s all coming together.”

He’s not the only Central Ohio product to hold an Ohio State offer in his class, either. The Buckeyes offered Africentric forward Dailyn Swain in June. Within Ohio, they are also known to have offered St. Mary’s Memorial center Austin Parks, Cincinnati Taft forward Rayvon Griffith, Huber Heights Wayne guard Lawrent Rice and Centerville guard Gabe Cupps.

Griffith is the No. 29 national prospect according to the 247Sports rankings while Rice, also a four-star player, is ranked No. 76 nationally. Cupps took an official visit to Ohio State last weekend.

The trip to Ohio State wasn’t the only one on Royal’s immediate radar. Tuesday, he’s taking an unofficial visit to Butler. Later this week, he’ll check out Cincinnati. Next weekend, he’ll visit an as-yet undecided school. The following weekend, it’ll be Marquette.

With multiple trips lined up and plenty of time to think things over, Royal said he’s in no hurry to make a decision about his future.

“That’s way down the road,” Royal said. “I just look for a connection and relationship with the coaches. I don’t go based off of the name of the school, how big the school. I just go off what I can do there, how the coach can help me, my connection. Stuff like that.”