Eugene Brown (11) plays in the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, a pro-am league, during summer 2019 before committing to play at Ohio State in 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Eugene Brown

Both of Ohio State’s 2020 men’s basketball commits knew Ohio State was the school for them as soon as they arrived on campus.

Eugene Brown III, a four-star shooting guard from Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Georgia, and Zed Key, three-star power forward from Long Island Lutheran High School in Glen Head, New York, committed to Ohio State without taking an official visit anywhere else after their trips to Columbus. 

“When I took my visit there, I just loved the people who surrounded the program,” Key said. “The players, the coaching staff — this is definitely the place for me.”

Brown III decided right before his family left for the airport, and Key made his choice less than a week after his official visit to campus.

Brown III chose Ohio State over schools such as Louisville, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Auburn.

His dad and high school coach, Eugene Brown II, said he realized his son was leaning toward Ohio State from day one.

“Every night we would talk to Gene, and he was just really enamored with the situation,” Brown II said. “It’s a great family atmosphere, and he just kind of fell in love with it. He went with his heart, and I don’t think you could go wrong with that.”

At 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, Brown III is considered a top-100 recruit in the country and has great skill on both sides of the ball, Brown II said.

“He’s long; he’s athletic; he’s got a very, very nice jump shot,” Brown II said. “He’s a good defender, on and off the ball. Great basketball IQ, great IQ in the classroom as well.”

Brown III said the Ohio State coaching staff showed him film of former Buckeye D’Angelo Russell, comparing Russell’s skillset to Brown III’s. 

While both commits had the chance to meet a majority of the current basketball team, two players stood out in particular for both high school seniors: sophomore guards Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad.

“I was mostly with Duane and Luther,” Brown III said. “When I first got there, I went to tour the weight room, and those two guys were in there, just working hard and going at it.”

Key stands at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds and compares his style of play to that of Philadelphia 76ers’ forward Tobias Harris. Key said Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann wants him to work on his strength and conditioning before he officially arrives on campus. Brown III said he hopes to improve his pick-and-roll reads, and like Key, develop more strength.

Brown II said the team was welcoming and filled with good players and people, adding that everyone wanted to work as hard as possible to improve — something Key mentioned as well.

“Talking to the players away from the staff, they really had nothing but great things to say about the experience, situation, opportunities and resources,” Brown II said.

Looking beyond basketball, Brown III was pleasantly surprised by the university’s size and atmosphere and said the campus felt a lot smaller than it looked.

“It’s a good college feel,” Brown III said. “Everything’s right there for you to be successful. It’s just a great place.”

Key agreed.

“When you think of Ohio State, you think of a huge campus, spread out. But it’s really not like that,” Key said. “Everything that you need is right there. I liked that a lot.”

Brown III said he’s ready for more than a taste of Ohio State. He’s ready to become a part of the program. 

He said he keeps in touch with Key, and the two have already discussed their plans for 2020.

“Zed and I, we should come in, fall right into what Ohio State has become, and just help them become better,” Brown III said.