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Ohio State commit Roddy Gayle Jr. adjusting to Utah move's No. 6 overall shooting guard in the Class of 2022 and two-time first team All-Western New York selection committed to The Ohio State University back in November. (Courtesy: @roddyg_23/Instagram)

Ohio State commit Roddy Gayle Jr. adjusting to Utah move

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (BVM) — Heading into his high school junior season, Roddy Gayle Jr. wasn’t expecting that his basketball journey would take him from his home in Western New York to Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah. Things would change however when the fall basketball season was put on hold in his home state.

“When I first got the idea to go to Wasatch Academy, I wasn’t even home,” Gayle said. “It was the kind of time where I was out playing AAU basketball with my AAU team so I was down in New Jersey at the time. My dad kind of brought it to my attention that prep school might be an option because we… were supposed to have a season a lot earlier in New York but it kept getting postponed and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to play or not.”

The plan to play prep level basketball had never really entered the thoughts of the junior guard. Gayle started his high school basketball career in the seventh grade at Niagara Falls High School and would move up to varsity the following year. After transferring his freshman year to Lewiston-Porter, Gayle would continue his growth as an elite player not only in the area, but in the country, breaking the 1,000-point mark in his sophomore season.

With the plan to push winter sports back in New York, Gayle decided the switch to Wasatch Academy was the right move. The decision to join the team mid-season was made easier after talking with Wasatch head coach Paul Peterson and upcoming teammate Nolan Hickman, who would give him some insight on life in Utah. 

“I asked Nolan what it was like to live there and what is there to do when we’re not playing basketball and he kept it honest with me,” Gayle said. “He told me that there was going to be nothing to do and you’re only going to be playing basketball and going to school. When I got there it was exactly what he said. That’s what I really appreciated. He wasn’t trying to tell me what I wanted to hear, he told me what was true.” 

For the Niagara Falls native, coming into the new program presented a couple of different obstacles. Wasatch had already played 11 games in their season, so Gayle would have to get acquainted with his new teammates rather quickly.

“I had to learn all the plays, I had to learn the different playstyles of all my teammates, I had to learn how Coach wanted me to play,” Gayle said. “That was all kind of weird because it was coming at me all at once and then I had to prepare for a game in two weeks. So, I had to learn a lot of different stuff in probably a 12-14 day time period because we had a game [coming up].”

With a quick inauguration, Gayle has enjoyed the last couple of months in a much different environment. It’s been a change for the junior guard who says at Lewiston-Porter he was used to taking most of the shots. He’s had to figure out how to be more efficient with the opportunities he gets each game.

“I like the competition,” Gayle said when comparing it to high school. “The schedule we have is amazing and it reminds me a lot of AAU because of how much traveling and stuff we do and also playing against some of the best talent in the country. Like it’s amazing playing against a team where you don’t know who’s going to go off and that’s going to prepare you for college as much as possible, playing against the biggest, best and strongest talent.”

Playing against some of the top competition in the country has been helpful in preparing the Wasatch guard for college basketball. Gayle declared to The Ohio State University back in November at Lewiston-Porter High School.

“I watched the game [Ohio State] played Michigan, which is a rivalry game and I loved the atmosphere,” Gayle said. “I was sold from there.”

Ohio State clicked for Gayle right away, mentioning the relationships he had built with the coaches that recruited him. Although the recruiting process was stressful, the future Buckeye appreciated picking the brains of basketball greats in his talks with different college programs. 

“It was fun talking to all these different legends,” Gayle said. “I’ve talked with Coach McNamara from Syracuse, I’ve talked to Coach Ewing from Georgetown. It was great picking their heads and their ideas of how they do basketball and their memory on how the game is supposed to be played.”

For Gayle, the opportunity to play tougher competition will continue as the program prepares for the upcoming GEICO High School National Championship. Playing against some of the top talent in the nation is one bonus to the move for Gayle, who is looking forward to this kind of opportunity.

“The best of the best are playing there and one loss and you’re out,” Gayle said of the upcoming experience. “I believe that playoff energy kind of brings everything out of everybody and [everyone] kind of plays their hardest and that’s the kind of basketball that I want to play.”

The tournament will be another chance for his hometown to tune into his games. Even though he may be across the country, Gayle always feels the support from back home.

“I really appreciate them because no matter what I did or what I do they’re always there behind me, always supporting no matter what,” Gayle said. “If I’m playing on ESPN they always tune in, if it’s a stream and it costs money they are going to spend their money to watch me play. It’s really great to have such a supportive cast.”

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