Small forward Scotty Middleton, a 5-star senior, commits to playing men’s basketball for the Ohio State Buckeyes

Five-star senior Scotty Middleton signed for Ohio State on Sunday, becoming the first five-star rookie of the Chris Holtmann era and the Buckeyes’ highest-ranked rookie in nine years.

Middleton picked the Buckeyes from the bottom three which included Seton Hall and UConn.

“[It was] really everything,” Middleton told ESPN. “The coaching staff, the fans and the culture at Ohio State. How the players and coaches behave. Being at Ohio State is going to make me a better basketball player, but more importantly, a better person.”

Middleton made his official visit to Ohio State in March, then traveled to Seton Hall and UConn in June. But he said the family aspect of the Buckeyes was a key factor in his decision, as was his relationship with Holtmann, the Ohio State head coach.

“Coach Holtmann was honest throughout this process and he never told me what I wanted to hear or withheld anything,” Middleton said. “Just seeing how he handles his players in good and bad times, I know I can trust him even when I’m fighting or even when I’m playing well.”

A 6-foot-6 small forward from Miami who attends Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas), Middleton is ranked No. 18 in the ESPN 100 for 2023. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.3 rebounds on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring and summer, but was at his best during the Nike Peach Jam in July. He’s scored at least 18 points in three of his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds in a win over Expressions Elite.

Middleton is a long-framed winger who plays effortlessly on both sides of the floor. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the class, both on and off the ball, and he does a great job staying in front of the ball and challenging shots. His one-on-one lateral speed is impressive and allows him to block shots and execute switches. On the assist side, he covers the ground with mobility and speed.

Offensively, he’s at his best as a slasher and cutter with 3-point shooting ability.

“Scotty is one of the most competitive players I’ve coached,” Sunrise coach Luke Barnwell said. “He has a high basketball IQ and is an elite defender on the ball. He has worked to become an effective shooter and scorer.”

Middleton becomes Ohio State’s highest-ranked rookie since D’Angelo Russell signed with the Buckeyes in the class of 2014. He’s also Ohio State’s first five-star commitment since Holtmann was hired in 2017 — though the Buckeyes still managed to land a top-10 run for the upcoming college season.

It gives Ohio State four ESPN 100 rookies in the 2023 class, tying Duke and Kentucky for the most in the country. Middleton joins guard George Washington III and frontcourt prospects Devin Royal and Austin Parks. Royal signed up with the Buckeyes last week – and Middleton can’t wait to play with the Ohio native.

“I think our games will be great together because when you have guys who can play multiple positions and hold multiple positions, our roles are going to be limitless and our games are definitely going to complement each other,” he said.

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