Harmon Hopes To Have Familiar Company At OSU

The most-recent Dayton Lady Hoopstar to opt to be a Buckeye is Emilee Harmon, but she hopes a close friend will take that title from her at some point and that OSU head coach Jim Foster can reel in one of her AAU teammates before the class of 2009 is complete.

Emilee Harmon's verbal commitment to play basketball at Ohio State beginning with the 2009-10 season could turn out to be the first of a two-part recruiting story.

Harmon, a 6-2 forward from Pickerington Central rated among the best junior girls' basketball players in Ohio, told BuckeyeSports.com she already made a recruiting pitch of her own.

In a meeting that included her family and AAU coach John Coffey on Monday in Columbus, Harmon told the Ohio State coaching staff she would accept a scholarship offer to be a Buckeye.

That night she dialed the phone number of another of Ohio's top prospects for the class of 2009: Mikaela Ruef of Beavercreek, Harmon's close friend and AAU teammate on the Dayton Lady Hoopstars.

"I called her up last night and told her she needs to be my roommate," Harmon said. "I'm working on that."

She said she believed the 6-3 Ruef is interested in being a Buckeye, an idea confirmed later Tuesday by Ruef's father, Mike.

He said Ohio State was the first school to offer his daughter officially when they did so last August, and the school is one of a handful she is still considering.

Also on Ruef's list of finalists are (in no particular order) Michigan State, Purdue, West Virginia, Stanford, Dayton, North Carolina and Connecticut. The Spartans, Boilermakers, Mountaineers, Cardinal and Flyers all have offered scholarships while the Tar Heels and Huskies have only shown interest.

Ruef has visited Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue and Dayton, and along with her family plans to make an unofficial visit to Stanford in early June.

According to her father, Ruef's decision will be heavily influenced by the ability to stay close to her family. That would favor Ohio State, with a campus that is about an hour's drive east of Beavercreek, and UD, which is only about a dozen miles to the west.

Although situated 2,400 miles to the west, Stanford has an in as well because the Ruef's have family in that area.

The Buckeyes and Flyers both have one more advantage on the rest of the field, too. While the Ohio State has Harmon in its corner, suiting up next season for Dayton will be Justine Raterman of Versailles, a Division III All-Ohio selection last season who also played with Harmon and Ruef as a Lady Hoopstar.

As for Harmon's ability to draw Ruef to Columbus for her college career, "I don't want to get anybody's hopes up at Ohio State, but it's a possibility, a very real possibility," Mike Ruef said.

He added that Ohio State's style of play under head coach Jim Foster is appealing, as is the makeup of the roster, which in 2009 will include 6-4 center Jantel Lavender, the reigning Big Ten player of the year, and a plethora of talented guards but at the moment looks like it will be light on frontcourt players.

Harmon, though, with the ability to play both the 4 and the 3 (which she identified as her more natural position) figures to help fill that void, according to her AAU coach.

"She has a pretty good knack for passing the ball, so I think that will complement the high-low game Coach Foster runs," Coffey said. "And I think he wants to speed the tempo up a little bit with the guards he's bringing in but you've got to have some people down there that can muscle and play that inside thing and she's definitely one of those types of players.

"She can shoot over a lot of people. She can face up the basket, but she can also play with her back to the basket. I think it's a great choice for her and I think it's a great piece to the puzzle that Ohio State has been looking for."

Ruef, 6-3 and a talented passer and accurate shooter, could be another piece, too.

"With Coach Foster's offense, they would both fit in and fit in real well and probably be on the court a lot at the same time," Mike Ruef said. "There again, they see each other very well."

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