Losing all but four players, including three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State has a long way to go to rebuild its team to a title contender.
That rebuilding process starts with effective recruiting.
The alluring draw of Ohio State’s program stays on the mind of women’s basketball associate head coach Patrick Klein, especially when recruiting future Buckeyes.
One of Klein’s focuses when he is on the road recruiting high school players is making sure the coaching staff gets to know players and their families. His main goal, though, is emphasizing the importance of Ohio State, not only as a basketball program, but as a place players can make connections for their futures, he said.
Head coach Kevin McGuff, along with Klein, showed how this strategy can work this summer. Kierstan Bell, the No. 6 player and the No. 2 point guard in the 2019 recruiting class, according to ESPN, chose to commit to Ohio State in August.
A Canton, Ohio, native, Bell was named Gatorade Player of the Year last season and is a three-time Associated Press first-team All-Ohio athlete playing for McKinley High School.
Klein said the brand of Ohio State brings power, something that can help players both on and off the court and is instilled in them when they are recruited.
That is what prompted freshman forward and Hungary native Dorka Juhasz’s decision to commit to Ohio State over schools such as Louisville and Kentucky.
“I can get a really good degree,”Juhasz said. “I planned my life like what it’ll be after my basketball career. I think both education and basketball were the best here.”
Juhasz could be an impactful player for the Buckeyes this year, after playing professionally in Hungary for three years prior to committing to Ohio State.
Juhasz was ranked the No. 12 international prospect in the 2018 class and a No. 5 forward in the class, according to Prospects Nation.
Klein knows just how strong Ohio State’s brand can be, even overseas in Europe.
“From Barcelona to Budapest, we’re hearing O-H-I-O because of what we’re wearing on our chest,” Klein said.
That appeal can reach thousands of miles away, and also works in-state.
Ashanti Abshaw, a transfer from Cleveland State who was a three-time All-Horizon League member and was the third fastest in school history to 1,000 career points, joined the Buckeyes for her final year of eligibility.
Abshaw said being from Ohio makes playing for the Buckeyes that much more special, and getting the opportunity to play in front of her family means that much more.
“It means a lot,” Abshaw said. “I’ve always been a family person, so being able to represent Ohio is just so big because I have so much support just from being from Cleveland Heights.”