As Carly Santoro evaluated what lied ahead in her final year of women’s basketball eligibility, those were two key factors that led to a change.
Santoro, a 2015 Bellevue graduate, will graduate transfer from Bowling Green State University to Ohio State University next school year.
The former three-time All-Ohioan was the leading scorer for the Falcons (11-19), who concluded the season on March 5 with a first-round loss in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
Three days later, head coach Jennifer Roos, the coach who recruited Santoro to BGSU, was fired after six seasons.
That all played a factor in Monday night’s announcement that Santoro would play her last season for the Buckeyes — who won 28 games and the Big Ten championship this past season.
“It came down to being able to not sit out a year and education,” Santoro said. “Ohio State gave me best educational opportunity for not only next year, but for years to come. For the future of my career, this will help me for the long run.”
Santoro will receive her undergraduate degree from BGSU in May in Communication Sciences and Disorders. At OSU, she will pursue a one-year Master’s degree in a field to be determined. After basketball, she will then begin a Master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology.
She will still be a full-time student in terms of her class schedule next year.
“Not being able to play for the coach who recruited you is hard, and definitely played a role in deciding to leave,” Santoro said. “This is the best opportunity for me to go elsewhere.
“I want to be able to compete for championships, and I’ll be able to help do that at Ohio State,” she added. “I’m very excited to go there, continue my education and play for some great coaches.”
At Bowling Green, Santoro averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in 30 starts for the Falcons this past season. That led the team in both categories.
For her career, she scored 874 points in 89 games (9.8 points per game) and was a two-time Player of the Year for the program.
“Obviously BG has offered me so many opportunities and I can’t thank the university enough,” Santoro said. “I’m walking away with a great education, friendships and a lifetime of memories.
“I also had the opportunity to go to Cuba and play in some awesome tournaments,” she added. “I got to do all those things just because of basketball, and I’ll be forever thankful.”
The Buckeyes went 28-7 this past season, finishing as the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions while earning a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
“I definitely will have to be able to adapt to whatever is thrown my way,” Santoro said of going into the top 25 program. “I have to be able to quickly learn everything they’re teaching and do it fast. I only have one year, so I have to be focused and work extremely hard.”
But OSU will also need to replace All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, the No. 2 all-time points leader (3,402) in NCAA history. Two other starters also graduate.
It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m blessed to go there and play for another year,” Santoro said. “Ohio State is a great school, and I’m excited to step on campus and get going.
“I know I have a great situation waiting for me, and I have to take full advantage of it,” she added. “I need to go in there and work hard and run with it. Nothing will be given, and I look forward to the challenge and opportunity of that.”
At Bellevue, Santoro was one of the most decorated players in area and Ohio history.
The Lady Red won the Northern Ohio League title in all four of her seasons, compiling an 84-16 record in 100 games with two district championships.
As a senior in 2014-15, she was an All-Ohio first team selection. She averaged 30.2 points per game in leading the Lady Red to a regional title game in Division II.
Overall, Santoro scored 2,387 points, which is unofficially 10th all-time in OHSAA history.