Five-star senior Scotty 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.
"[It was] really everything," Middleton told ESPN. "The coaching staff, the fans and the culture that Ohio State has. How the players and coaches carry themselves. Being at Ohio State is going to make me a better basketball player, but more importantly, a better person."
Middleton took his official visit to Ohio State back in March, and then went on trips 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, Ohio State's head coach.
"Coach Holtmann was honest throughout this whole process and he never told me what I wanted to hear or held back on anything," Middleton said. "Just seeing how he handles his players through good and bad, I know that I can trust him even when I'm struggling 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 scored at least 18 points in three of his final four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds in a win over Expressions Elite.
Middleton is a long-framed wing who plays with effort on both ends of the floor. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the class, both on and off the ball, and he does an excellent job of staying in front of the ball and contesting shots. His one-on-one lateral speed is impressive and allows him to block shots and execute on switches. On the help side, he covers 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 on-ball defender. He has worked to become an efficient shooter and scorer."
Middleton becomes Ohio State's highest-ranked recruit since D'Angelo Russell signed with the Buckeyes in the class of 2014. He's also the first five-star Ohio State commit since Holtmann was hired in 2017 -- although the Buckeyes still managed to land a top-10 class for the upcoming college season.
He 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 frontcourt prospects 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 that can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions, our roles are going to be limitless and our games are definitely going to complement each other," he said.