OSU Women 'Juice' Their Hoop Roster

Already a two-time Division III Player of the Year in Ohio, Jantel Lavender of Cleveland Central Catholic recently decided she would continue her very impressive basketball career at the next level under Jim Foster at Ohio State. With schools like Tennessee and others pursuing her, Lavender thought that she could become the best player she could possibly be by playing for Foster as a Buckeye.

According to HoopGurlz.com, Jantel ‘Juice' Lavender of Cleveland Central Catholic High School is the most complete post player in the country and as of Tuesday, Oct. 24, she became an Ohio State Buckeye.

"After my visit I just felt so comfortable at Ohio State and I just knew it was the place for me," said Lavender who mentioned that ‘Juice' is simply her childhood nickname that has carried on and it's what everybody calls her now. "I knew my mom would be able to make it to all of my games. And I could get home or, in case of an emergency, if somebody needed to come, they could get there for me. It's close to home but it's still a good fit for me."

Prior to her commitment, Lavender, at 6-foot-4, was regarded as the highest-rated uncommitted player in the nation. HoopGurlz considers her to be the top post player in the country in the class of 2007.

"I just realized how much Coach Foster was in to me. How he wants to develop my game and where he wants to take my game to," Lavender said. "I just feel like I will be the best that I can be there and he will take my game to the highest level that it can be at as a college player and I wanted that for myself."

With the high school hoop season about to start soon, it was just the right time for Lavender to commit.

"Yeah I think it was the right time to get the pressure off and just be able to enjoy this year and be able to play and just things like that," she said. "I can just enjoy my senior year now."

Lavender was a starter on the varsity as a freshmen at Central Catholic.

"I didn't know I was going to be any good, I was just out there playing," she said. "I started playing in the seventh grade and I didn't really know anything about basketball."

And now she's a preseason All-American after being a two-time Division III Player of the Year in Ohio and a third-team Parade All-American last year.

"I think I'm still evolving. There's still a lot that I think I need to learn as a player," said Lavender who was named to the 2006 Women's U18 National Team in June after being a first-team All-State selection in her junior season when she averaged 23.7 points and 19.1 rebounds per game. "I think I'm in a good place for high school but I still need to improve myself as a college player because it's a different level of competition."

In three seasons at Central Catholic, Lavender has recorded more than 1,500 points, close to 1,250 rebounds, 292 assists, 160 steals and 366 blocked shots (those stats courtesy of usabasketball.com). She's just very proud of the player that she has obviously become.

"I really am," Lavender said. "When you first start out you never think that you're going to be as good as you are. I just started (playing) to have fun because I knew it was fun to play sports. I just wanted to play for fun and I didn't know anything about it. But basketball can take you really far and I'm glad that I got involved in it."

For Lavender, basketball has obviously taken her as far as she could possibly go up to this point. She was being recruited by schools such as Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas and Maryland before she gave her verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.

"I thought (the recruiting process) was fun but after a while it was kind of overwhelming when it came down to choosing a school," Lavender said. "It was kind of hard deciphering between this and that. You knew (the basketball part) was going to be fun but you have to be able to decipher between ‘is this school right for me and are they going to have my right major' and things like that. "

Meeting someone like Pat Summitt was an exciting part of the process.

"I did meet Pat Summit and she's a very nice lady and I really respect her program," Lavender said. "But I just felt that Ohio State was the better fit for me."

And with the recruiting process behind her now Lavender can fully concentrate on her senior season.

"I just want concentrate on the season and my senior year," she said. "Just basically enjoy the fun things the seniors go through like clubs, prom, all of that stuff, and enjoy my senior year."

And on the hardwood, Lavender hopes to play for all of the marbles this year. Her team hasn't advanced beyond the regional semifinals to this point.

"My expectations are to win the state championship and lead my team to victories all the time," Lavender said. "We want to go undefeated this year, that's our goal."

Her twin sister Jazmine is a member of the hoop team at Central Catholic as well.

"She plays. She's like a role player. She can shoot the spot-up jump shot and she can play defense for us," Lavender said. "We have a very good relationship. I love her to death."

Jazmine Lavender is heading to Ohio State as well.

"She going there too. She loves it," Jantel Lavender said. "She's going to get part academic and part managerial so she can go along with the team. I'm not sure exactly. I don't think she's going to play basketball but she's going to be a manager and be around the team."

Jantel's sister gave her interpretation of what her scholarship situation is going to be like.

"I'm getting a half academic scholarship and a half sports scholarship," said Jazmine Lavender who is currently ranked second academically in the senior class. "It might be like a managerial scholarship or something like that. I might help the team out. I might run track. It just depends."

But she couldn't be happier for herself and her sister.

"It's just great," Jazmine Lavender said. "We always wanted to go to school together. At first we thought we were, then we thought we weren't and now we are. So we're happy. It's just a blessing."

It's just a dream-come true that has come full circle for Jantel and her sister now.

"It is a dream-come-true because when we were younger we had a scholarship to Ohio State. We were in the Young Scholars program and that scholarship got taken away from us because my dad made too much money," Jantel Lavender said.

"So it's like it's just coming back around. My mom told us when one door closes another door opens. That happened when we were in the seventh grade and then I started playing basketball after the scholarship got taken away and that just opened another door. And that opportunity is here now."

Lavender, who also played on the school's volleyball team along with her sister, carries a 3.8 GPA and is in the Honors program.

"I just involve myself in everything," Jantel Lavender said. "And I'm a good student."

She's looking forward to doing the same thing at Ohio State now.

"I'm very excited. I'm just very excited about all of the opportunities that are going to come, period," she said. "I'm just ecstatic."

Jazmine is also very excited for her sister.

"She is such a hard person on the court but when she gets off the court she's such a softie. She is so sensitive and most people probably don't think that but she really is," Jazmine said. "She likes to do hair and everything."

And it's safe to say that Jazmine is obviously her sister's biggest fan.

"I think she is really good. She is a phenomenal player," she said. "She is so good to me. I'm so proud of her."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories