'Anxious' commit Austin Parks eager to get senior year, then Ohio State career underway

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Austin Parks, a 2023 Ohio State commitment from St. Marys (Ohio) Memorial, watched his team participate at Ohio State's 2022 team camp while recovering from a knee injury.

The waiting is the hardest for 2023 Ohio State commit Austin Parks.

In early June, Parks and his St. Marys Memorial teammates made the trip down US-33 to participate in OSU’s team camp. The Roughriders had three games to play in the span of a few hours, but their primary weapon could only watch from the bench.

It’s not long-term, but Parks' right knee injury it’s enough to have kept him out of camp and possibly his final summer of AAU basketball. 

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“I mean, it’s awesome getting to play here for our small town and a school like us,” he said. “I know my time will come eventually. Right now I’ve just got to take it all in.”

OSU basketball commit Austin Parks nursing knee injury

A four-star center in the composite database, the 6-9, 240-pound Parks committed to the Buckeyes at a mid-February ceremony inside his high school auditorium. When AAU season got underway this spring, Parks was playing for his Ohio Buckets team when one of his teammates was fouled.

“He fell back and his head hit my knee,” Parks said. “Kind of hyperextended, but I ended up fracturing a knee bone. It was in our first game about three-four weeks ago. It hurt pretty bad.”

Parks said he walked around that weekend but sat out the remainder of the games before then playing in the Nike Super 16 event in Columbus May 20-22. It wasn’t until the following week in some open gym events that Parks started to feel weakness in his knee.

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An MRI revealed the damage, and Parks was facing a six-week recovery. As the Roughriders participated in Ohio State’s camp, Parks said he was one week into that timetable with hopes of perhaps playing in the final week of AAU basketball this July.

“I don’t know how close my recovery will be for my last tournament, but it’ll be pretty close,” he said.

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So instead of participating with the Roughriders, Parks watched his current teammates play on his future court. He also spent time talking with the Ohio State coaching staff and mingling with some of his eventual college teammates. Parks said he met freshmen Bruce Thornton and Felix Okpara, and he was seen talking with redshirt freshman Kalen Etzler.

Okpara, a center, is listed at 6-11, 210 pounds and will be a second-year player when Parks arrives.

“I’m excited because I feel like we can be a very deadly front court, defensively and offensively,” Parks said. “I feel like we’re two very different players, but we’d play together very well. I’m excited to play with him.”

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For now, Parks said he’s trying to take what he's learning from watching the game and apply it to helping St. Marys prepare for his senior season. It’s a lesson in patience that Parks, who was consistently dribbling a basketball during breaks and before and after games, is not particularly enjoying.

“I’m always wanting to do something, moving around and all that,” Parks said. “I still go to all the practices, and I’m trying to stay still; but it’s hard, man, sitting back and watching. I know it’s for the best because you don’t want it to get worse, and it’s better for it to happen now than later on when the season comes around.”

'I’m ready. I’m getting excited. I’ve got no other words. I’m just excited for that time to come'

Once healthy, Parks said he’ll focus on rebuilding his conditioning and improving his 3-point and mid-range shooting as well as his ball handling.

He hopes all that pays off one year from now when he’ll be a Buckeye.

“Anxious, man,” he said. “I’m ready. I’m getting excited. I’ve got no other words. I’m just excited for that time to come.”


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