Small forward Scotty Middleton, a 5-star senior, has committed to play men’s basketball for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Small forward Scotty Middleton, a 5-star senior, has committed to play men’s basketball for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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Five-star senior Scottie Middleton committed to Ohio State on Sunday, becoming the first five-star recruit of the Chris Holtmann era and the Buckeyes’ highest-ranked recruit in nine years.

Middleton picked the Buckeyes over a final three that included Seton Hall and UConn.

“[It was] “The coaching staff, the fans and the culture that Ohio State has,” Middleton told ESPN. How the players and coaches carry themselves. Being at Ohio State makes me a better basketball player, but more importantly, it makes me a better person.

Middleton took his official visit to Ohio State in March and visits to Seton Hall and UConn in June. But he said the Buckeyes’ family aspect was a key factor in his decision, as was his relationship with Holtzman, the Ohio State head coach.

“Coach Holtzman was honest throughout this process and he didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear or hold me back,” Middleton said. “Seeing how he handles the players through good times and bad, I know I can count on him even when I’m struggling and when I’m playing well.”

Middleton, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Miami who attends Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas), is ranked 18th in the ESPN 100 for 2023. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.3 rebounds a game on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring and summer. He was at his best during the Nike Peach Jam in July. He has scored at least 18 points in three of his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds in a win over Expression Elite.

Middleton is a long-framed wing who plays hard on both ends of the floor. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the class both on and off the ball and does a great job of staying in front of the ball and competing for shots. His one-on-one lateral quickness is impressive and allows him to block shots and execute tackles. With his help, he covers the ground with movement and speed.

Offensively, his 3-point shooting skills are at his best as a skater and destroyer.

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

Middleton has been Ohio State’s top recruit since D’Angelo Russell signed with the Buckeyes in 2014. He’s also the first five-star Ohio State commit since Holtzman was hired in 2017 — though the Buckeyes could still earn a top-10 class for the upcoming college season.

It gives Ohio State four ESPN 100 recruits in the 2023 class, tying Duke and Kentucky for the most in the country. Middleton joins guard George Washington III and a frontcourt of Devin Royal and Austin Parks. Royal committed to the Buckeyes last week — and Middleton is looking forward to playing with the Ohio native.

“I think our games will be great together because when you have guys playing multiple positions and guarding multiple positions, our roles are limitless and our games are definitely complementary,” he said.

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