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Tuesday, May 20, 2008
No. 23 ranked Harmon verbals to Ohio State

By Glenn Nelson
ESPN HoopGurlz

Emilee Harmon hadn't planned to make such a major decision this early. But, then again, her experience has taught her to go for what you want when it's in front of you. It may not always be there.

Emilee Harmon
Emilee Harmon is Columbus bound.
Ohio State, to which Harmon committed today, is going to be there, for sure. But back when she was in the eighth grade, the local school levy was failing and one of the threatened consequences was the end of interscholastic sports. So the Harmons moved from Hebron, Ohio, about an hour away to Pickerington.

"I didn't think I could do without sports," said Harmon, a versatile, 6-foot-1 wing ranked 23rd in the HoopGurlz Super Sixty for 2009.

Ironically, the trek from Hebron to Pickerington also brough Harmon an hour closer to Columbus, which will be home for four years with the Buckeyes. Spiritually, she never was really that far away.

In addition to Ohio State, Duke, Notre Dame, Purdue and Stanford comprised Harmon's final five. She'd expected to take official visits before deciding. However, during a ride to a club tournament last week, Harmon was going over the pros and cons of her finalists in her mind. Stanford was too far away. Last year's coaching change made Duke seem risky. Ohio State simply was home and, as Harmon put it, "perfect."

From a basketball standpoint, Harmon will fit nicely with the Buckeyes. Super point guard Samantha Prahalis and athletic guard Amber Stokes arrive in Columbus this coming fall to join inside bedrock Jantel Lavender. Harmon will provide more perimeter firepower, as well as a player who knows her way around the low boxes.

That kind of offensive flexibility also will give Harmon a good shot at making the USA Basketball U18 team, to whose trials she has been invited. Harmon was one of a handful of underclassmen invited to USA Basketball's Youth Development Festival last spring. She had just missed five weeks with a stress fracture in her lower right leg, and had to cope with some of the nation's top high-school players lacking top conditioning amid the breath-robbing altitude of Colorado Springs, Colo.

"That was rough," Harmon said. But the experience, particularly the forced inaction, taught her something.

"I pushed myself to where I couldn't play anymore," Harmon said. "And I had to sit out longer because of that. If anything, not being able to play showed how much I really loved the sport."

Harmon is leaning toward studying criminology, following in the footsteps of her father and brother, who both are policemen. If she makes the USA team, her summer is spoken for. Otherwise, she will continue to play for the Dayton Lady Hoopstars club team.

Playing before college coaches never really was a source of pressure, Harmon says. That's not why she decided to commit early. The commitment, further, won't change her approach to the club season.

"I never looked at it as an audition," Harmon said of the summer circuit. "I just loved playing."

Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer.

For more in-depth coverage of women's college-basketball prospects and girl's basketball, visit HoopGurlz.com