Ohio State recruiting: Devin Royal faces Xavier Booker, talks recruitment at Buckeyes camp

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

For about 25 minutes, Devin Royal and Xavier Booker traded blows like a pair of heavyweight fighters.

Fresh off appearances at the Pangos All-American Camp in Las Vegas, the two rising prospects in the class of 2023 were now matched up against each other on Ohio State’s main court at Value City Arena. Royal’s Pickerington Central team faced Booker’s Indianapolis Cathedral. Moments into the first half, Royal had a quick seven points on a dunk, a layup and a 3-pointer.

Booker, a five-star center rated among the top 10 prospects nationally after a strong spring, answered, but the matchup was cut short when Royal went down in a heap during the second half. He would return briefly, but moved gingerly, so coaches had him watch the remainder of the game.

Ohio State basketball insider: Stay in the know with texts from beat reporter Adam Jardy

“I was about to dunk that when I messed up my ankle,” Royal said. “It’ll be fine. Just a little sprain.”

Seated near the court, Royal had a bag of ice taped to the left ankle but otherwise was in good spirits. It’s been a significant spring for the four-star small forward, ranked No. 75 nationally in the composite database, who was fresh off a standout performance at Pangos that saw him selected to the “Top 30 Cream of the Crop” game from a pool of 120 players. One national media outlet named him the most valuable player of the event.

Ohio State recruiting: Chris Holtmann, Buckeyes offer new scholarships in 2023 class

With that has come increased attention, but Royal said he’s enjoying the ride.

“I feel like I deserved it,” Royal said. “I’ve been working out a lot and going hard the last year or so and figured it was gonna come sooner or later, so my day came sooner than I thought. I didn’t play as well as I should’ve (at Pangos). I felt like I was pretty decent, though. I feel pretty good about it.”

Pickerington Central's Devin Royal is ranked No. 75 nationally in the composite database.

Listed at 6 feet 6 and 210 pounds, Royal has grown from a back-to-the-basket post player as a freshman to a versatile athlete who attacked Cathedral at all levels. Frequently matched up with Booker, Royal on one possession pulled down a rebound, went coast to coast and finished with a crossover and two-handed dunk against the 6-10, 205-pounder. The Cathedral power forward got his, too, but Royal didn’t back down from the matchup until his injury forced him out of the game.

Booker is the No. 4 national recruit according to 247Sports. The Buckeyes have been steadily recruiting both players, and Royal said he is planning to take an official visit to Ohio State after he visits Michigan State on June 17.

“I think July 4 or something like that,” Royal said. “(My relationship with the Ohio State coaches) has been great. I’ve got a great relationship with them. They’ve always been great to me.”

Royal’s former teammate, Sonny Styles, graduated early, reclassified and has enrolled at Ohio State as a safety on the football team. Royal said the two speak but haven’t discussed the possibility of attending the same school.

“I haven’t talked to him about anything that deep,” Royal said. “I just know he likes it here. I’m proud of him.”

Royal plays AAU basketball with 2023 Ohio State verbal commitment George Washington III, a guard who will play his senior season at Dayton Chaminade Julienne. Washington said recently that he’s been recruiting Royal to join him at OSU, and the Central standout confirmed that has been the case.

Pickerington Central's Devin Royal is ranked No. 75 nationally in the composite database.

Royal hopes to pick a school before the end of the summer, sometime after the Peach Jam event in North Augusta, South Carolina, which will be held July 17-24. It’s been a tough process, he said, because his recruitment has continued to pick up as his senior season has approached.

“I was kind of narrowing down a little bit and tried to put a list out, but coaches kept calling and contacting me and stuff like that,” he said. “Hopefully I still do (commit) after Peach Jam. That’s my goal. I wouldn’t say it’s stressful because I’m used to it now. A lot of coaches call me. I’m very grateful for it and blessed for it.”

Pickerington Central's Devin Royal talks to Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and assistant Jake Diebler on Thursday.

In addition to his planned visits to Ohio State and Michigan State, Royal has taken official visits to Penn State, Xavier and Iowa State. Earlier this month, Miami (Florida) offered him a scholarship. When he does pick a school, Royal will have the option of sticking close to home or stepping out.

That’s not something Royal factor into his decision.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the distance or anything like that,” he said. “I feel like it’s fit for me and where’s the best opportunity for me to do what I want to do?”


Get more Ohio State news by listening to our podcasts