Ohio State lands commitment from 2023 center Austin Parks

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

ST. MARYS, Ohio — He’s watched multiple home games at Value City Arena. He’s taken in football games at Ohio Stadium. He’s seen the campus during several visits to Ohio State.

Now, Austin Parks is ready to be a Buckeye. The three-star center prospect from St. Marys (Ohio) Memorial has committed to Ohio State for the 2023 recruiting class after emerging as a top post priority for the Buckeyes. Flanked by his high school and AAU jerseys hanging from a blue-and-yellow backdrop, Parks made his announcement at a Sunday press conference inside his school auditorium.

Listed at 6 feet 9, 240 pounds, Parks in January had narrowed his final list to Ohio State, Indiana and West Virginia. Most recently, Parks took an official visit to Ohio State for a Feb. 6 home game with Maryland. Prior to that, he took an unofficial visit to Indiana to see the Hoosiers host Minnesota on Jan. 9.

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"I had to go through with my family and make a pros and cons list of each school," Parks said. "To be honest, there weren’t many negatives of (any of the schools). It led me to Ohio State because growing up, my whole family in Ohio has been OSU fans and that played a part. With the distance, that was also a major factor, being an hour and a half away down the road and having my mom’s work schedule. This was just the best choice for me."

Parks was also on hand for Ohio State’s win against No. 1 Duke on Nov. 30.

Seated at a table on the stage at his auditorium, Parks was flanked by parents Bob and Shari Parks. The table featured a photograph of his grandmother, Jean Parfait, who passed away recently.

He is the second member of Ohio State’s 2023 class, joining guard George Washington III. The 6-2, 165-pound junior at Louisville (Kentucky) Christian Academy is rated a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 46 overall prospect. He committed to the Buckeyes in November after taking an official visit to the Oct. 30 home football game. Parks was there, too, on an unofficial visit, marking the second time he took in a football game.

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247Sports lists Parks as the No. 18 center in the nation and the No. 6 prospect from Ohio. ESPN ranks him as a four-star prospect.

"Being a kid from Ohio, having them want you to play for their school, I feel really honored," he said. "Every time I went there they always made me feel like a priority, saying how they would use me and use me in the right way. I’ve done research and watched games and they do use their bigs the way that I could be used to help them win some games."

Ohio State offered Parks a scholarship during the early summer after a sophomore season that saw him earn second-team All-WBL honors as the Roughriders went 16-7. Ohio and Toledo were his first scholarship offers, but Ohio State, Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan State, Dayton and Illinois, among others, all followed suit in June.

Assistant coach Jake Diebler has been Parks’ primary recruiter.

It’s not yet known how big Ohio State’s 2023 class will become.