Pickerington Central Star Stays Home and Pledges to OSU

Six-foot-seven small forward Devin Royal, who propelled Pickerington Central to the Division I state championship in March, has committed to Ohio State, adding to the Buckeyes’ strong 2023 class.

Pickerington, Ohio – It really was no mystery in the realm of Stephen King, but a classroom full of Pickerington Central coaches, teammates, friends and media eagerly awaited Devin Royal, the senior basketball player, to announce his choice of university among three finalists. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound four-star prospect previously pledged to make his decision live on ESPN Instagram, but an internet connection issue delayed the festivities.

Finally, Royal said the phrase everyone had been waiting for: “I’ve committed to Ohio State University,” to loud applause. Royal pulled off a warm-up top to reveal an Ohio State t-shirt, and the family members around her did the same. While an original roster of nine was whittled down to OSU, Michigan State and Alabama, it would have come as a shock if Royal hadn’t picked the Buckeyes.

“I had a great relationship there for a while,” Royal said, naming assistant Jake Diebler as his main contact. “I’ve always been an OSU football fan, so my presence here definitely had an effect (on the decision). It’s a pretty strong fan and alumni base. I’m still there. went for stuff. The campus is great. That means a lot of my family can come to my home games now.

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Royal’s star had risen throughout his high school career, but most notably between his sophomore and junior campaigns. He averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.4 blocks per game, shooting 61% from the field last season. He took his game to the next level during the playoffs, when he propelled Central (26-2) to the Division I state championship.

Ranked No. 73 senior nationally by 247sports.com, Royal is considered Ohio’s No. 2 player, just behind Dayton’s 6-2 shooter George Washington III Chaminade Julienne, an All-Ohio Red teammate who s is already committed to OSU. Another of their AAU teammates, 6-6 swingman Dailyn Swain of Africentric, will announce his final five schools on Friday. He already has an offer from the Buckeyes. Yet another four-star, 6-9, 240-pound senior center, Austin Parks of St. Marys Memorial, has also committed to OSU.

Pickerington’s Royal is considered Ohio’s No. 2 player, just behind Dayton’s 6-2 shooter George Washington III Chaminade Julienne, also an Ohio State rookie.

Royal played in camp for OSU’s Scarlet and Gray team over the summer and made an official visit on July 3. Its original group of semi-finalists, so to speak, included Michigan, Marquette, Penn State, Clemson, Miami (Florida) and Mississippi.

“I’ve known for about a month, but I promised Devin and his family to keep my mouth shut,” Pickerington Central coach Eric Krueger said. “I think his recruitment has really changed since he made his official visit there. From his excitement, I could tell that everything had turned around for him and things were going that way. I’m excited for him. Of course, I would have been happy anywhere he chose, but staying in Columbus where we can all support him is especially nice. He’s already formed a line of communication and bonded with many athletes there…guys he can train with.

While visiting OSU, Royal met with fellow Pickerington Central schoolmate and basketball teammate Alex “Sonny” Styles, a five-star football recruit from Safe Buckeye.

Krueger was blessed with a slew of major college and NBA players during his nine seasons as head coach and 13 overall. Among them are Caris LeVert, Jae’Sean Tate, Jalen Tate, Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis and Conner Kern.

“I think I first met Devin at a football game between Pickerington Central and Pickerington North when he was in fifth grade and I knew he was coming,” Krueger said. “He was playing center back then, but his game has really developed with age. He has an old-school game that continued to drive him through his transformation. He has worked a lot with his coaches and coaches and his development is proof of that. Personally, I think he’s the best player in Ohio. He has a good chance against Mr. Basketball as a senior and we think he can lead us to another run at the state championship. There’s a lot of excitement around him and our program right now.

Long-armed and broad-shouldered, Royal can play on the wing or in the post. He is seen as a team type of player who doesn’t care too much about stats or hype.

“I guess you could say I’m a three-tier scorer, but the bottom line is that I do whatever it takes to win,” Royal said. “I just try to do my thing and impact my team like they need me. I’ve always been like that.

Veteran Central Ohio columnist Steve Blackledge writes about the OCC and sports in general for Press Pros.

Royal comes from sporting royalty, so to speak. His father, Daryl, was a record running back in Groveport and played collegiately in Cincinnati. He rushed for over 1,300 yards in his last two seasons with the Bearcats.

“A lot of time, travel and conversation has gone into this recruiting process,” said Daryl Royal. “It was stressful for us. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful it was for Devin.

To his credit, Devin’s laid-back nature probably helped him through the year-long ordeal.

“The most important factors for me are the relationships formed and the coaches who gave me the most love,” he said. “There was a lot on my shoulders, but that weight has been lifted now and I can get to work helping my team get back to the state championship.”

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