Dedication to sports often requires hard work, passion and sacrifice, and for Ohio State’s Aixa Wone Aranaz, the sacrifice is playing halfway across the globe.
The freshman forward from Pamplona, Spain, chose Ohio State to further her basketball career in hopes of going professional someday.
“It was best for me to study and play basketball at the same time,” Wone Aranaz said about choosing Ohio State. “In Spain, we don’t have this chance.”
Wone Aranaz said the level of play in the United States is higher than in Spain. However, she’s no stranger to playing at that higher level.
Wone Aranaz played for the U-20 Spanish National team at the European Women’s Championship in summer 2019, where she averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
She was also on the U-16, U-17 and U-19 junior Spanish national teams. She said some of her older teammates traveled to the U.S. to play and study, and she thought that was something she should do as well.
Ohio State’s recruitment of Wone Aranaz did not follow the traditional process of going to see Wone Aranaz play.
“It started off with watching a lot of stuff online of her and then eventually [we] went over to Spain,” assistant coach Carrie Banks said. “We went over to Barcelona to meet with her and her family. She came over to visit, and I think she just really liked it.”
Banks said Wone Aranaz also caught her eye with her versatility and scoring ability at 6-foot-3. Since Wone Aranez’s arrival at Ohio State, Banks said she has taken notice of her work ethic.
“She is probably one of our hardest workers on the team that is going hard all the time — not every other possession — but all the time,” Banks said.
Wone Aranaz started sacrificing well before Ohio State.
She played in Barcelona for five years, about four hours from Pamplona, and practiced four hours a day. Now she is playing in another country and speaking a second language.
Wone Aranaz said the time difference makes it harder to communicate with her family and friends back home.
“I am adapting to how they play here,” she said. “It is so different compared to Europe. I would like to adapt and improve in some skills that I can’t improve in Europe.”
With the season approaching, Wone Aranaz said she is still adjusting but is excited to continue getting to know the sport in the U.S. and her team.
“Her potential is just limitless,” Banks said. “She can play inside. She can score pretty much from anywhere on the floor. It’s just going to be little things about the international game versus ours.”