Ohio State then-freshman forward Dorka Juhasz (14) looks to make a pass in the first half of the game against Rutgers on March 3. Ohio State lost 66-56. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Managing Editor for Multimedia

For Ohio State forwards Aixa Wone Aranaz, Rebeka Mikulášiková and Dorka Juhász, the phrase “It’s a small world” could not be more accurate.

Though they hail from Spain, Slovakia and Hungary, respectively, freshmen Wone Aranaz and Mikulášiková and sophomore Juhász have all crossed paths over the years while representing their national teams.

“I’m really excited to see my European girls that came,” Juhász said. “It [is] really exciting to play together now.” 

None of them are new to a higher level of basketball. Wone Aranaz played for several of Spain’s junior national teams, Mikulášiková played for the highest league in Slovakia on Piestanske Cajky and Juhász has played on Hungarian national teams since 2015. 

Juhász hasn’t forgotten competing against her new teammates prior to their arrival in Columbus.

She said her and Wone Aranaz’s national teams played against each other almost every summer, in what became a rivalry.

In 2015, Spain and Hungary faced off in the U16 FIBA European Championship and Hungary obliterated Spain 81-6. Juhász had 27 points in the game.

It was in European league play that Mikulášiková and Juhász first squared off.

Aixa Wone Aranaz during 2019 summer league in Spain. Credit: Courtesy of Gary Petit

Though they all have years of experience playing in Europe, adapting to the American style of play has remained a challenge.

Mikulášiková said the American game features more one-on-one play and physicality than in Europe. She said having Wone Aranaz and Juhász on the team is vital because they have the same culture and can read each other’s games due to their similar playing styles. 

“[Juhász] is really helping me with everything, we are really close friends,” Mikulášiková said. “I’m so glad that she’s helping me.” 

Head coach Kevin McGuff said Juhász is leaning into her newfound leadership position in her second year, helping a team with seven new additions get acclimated to play at Ohio State.

The trio may be a part of a 13-person roster at Ohio State, but as the only three international players in the program, they share a bond like no one else.

“We have become better friends, and you have them on the court so it’s different,” Wone Aranaz said. “You don’t feel so alone. You know that they understand you, how you feel.”