STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
Brittany Johnson and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster have had a running conversation about the No. 40 that Johnson wears for Olney High School in Illnois. So when Johnson called Foster on Monday night to ask if No. 40 were still available, he immediately got the reference and said, "Yes." To which Johnson replied, "Then save it for me."
And thusly did Johnson, of little Olney, Ill., the No. 33 prospect in the HoopGurlz National Hot 100, become the latest Buckeye commit, according to her mother, Judy.
Johnson has made two unofficial visits to Ohio State, but won't take an official probably not until mid-November or so. She had, however, taken official visits to her other two top alternatives, Iowa and Michigan State.
"They were really good," Johnson said. "I have nothing against either of those schools, but deep down inside I knew Ohio State was the place I could fulfill all my dreams."
Ohio State has bagged arguably the two best Class of 2007 shooter-ballhandlers in the state of Illinois. The Buckeyes earlier received a commitment from Alison Jackson, the four-star recruit from Chicago, Ill. Jackson, 5-foot-11, is a strong, smooth-shooting wing.
Foster, whose program already is a near-consensus preseason Top 10 pick, also has his sights set on the biggest prize left on the 2007 board - center Jantel Lavender of Cleveland, Ohio, who is scheduled for an official visit at North Carolina this weekend and at Ohio State next week. Lavender, the No. 3 prospect in the country, according to HoopGurlz.com, also is considering Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Ohio State certainly has secured able table setters for Lavender. In Johnson, the Buckeyes will have an athletic 5-9 guard who is a superb scorer and distributor. Johnson can fire from very deep, as well as attack the rim and either finish or get to the free-throw line, where she also is strong.
"Shooting the three, taking the pull-up jumper and going to the basket," are Johnson's favorite things to do on a basketball court, revealing a true scorer at heart. She is just 574 points shy of the Illinois state career record held by Williamsville's Angie Sapp.
Johnson had a strong summer which tipped off with the USA Basketball U18 Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo. The selection committee was looking for shooters such as Johnson, but she says she didn't know what to expect and was nervous and therefore didn't shoot well.
It also could be argued that the selection committee didn't know what it had. Ohio State obviously does not share that lack of perspective.
Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.