Growing up in Lancaster, Ohio, Stephanie Blanton earned many honors throughout her successful high school career, including 2003 Division I All-Ohio Co-Player of the Year and 2003 Dispatch/Agonis Club Co-Player of the Year. The 5-11 forward is now a freshman on the Ohio State basketball team. Blanton, who has seen action in every game and has tallied 11 starts, is averaging 13.4 minutes per game and adding nearly three rebounds and three points an outing. Read on to learn more about Blanton’s past, how she is adjusting to life as a college student-athlete and her plans to pursue a career in the health industry.
How did you get involved basketball?
“My parents thought I should play because I was taller than everyone else. Basketball was just one of those sports that I decided to try out and see what it was like. I first started playing for a school team in the fourth grade and I wasn’t very good, but the summer between my fourth and fifth grade year, I realized that I really liked the sport.”
Why did you decide to wear No. 34?
“I was 23 because it was Michael Jordan’s number and in the sixth grade we couldn’t pick our numbers in anymore. I had the option of 34 or 52. I went with 34, and it has stuck with me since. I had the number for both basketball and volleyball throughout high school.”
Why did you decide to attend Ohio State?
“It has always been a dream of mine to come here. Ever since I was little I wanted to play in the Big Ten. I have always looked up to Katie Smith since she is from Logan, which is close to Lancaster. I always wanted to be like her. When the opportunity arrived at Ohio State, I took it.”
What about Katie Smith and her game made you look up to her?
“I have always looked up to her because we are both from similar backgrounds, small towns down south. I always watched her when she played up here. I thought it would be neat to follow in her footsteps. I like how she played and that is how I try to be. I try to be my own person but follow some of her aspects, such as her love for the game, hard work, desire and competitiveness.” What do you like the most about Ohio State?
“I like everything. It is a whole new experience for me. I like playing a lot and I like being around the team.”
Is college basketball what you expected?
“I knew it was going to be a big difference coming from high school basketball to college basketball. The Big Ten is supposed to be one of the most physical conferences and it is pretty physical. College basketball is all that I expected it to be. It is different and challenging but I like it.”
What has been the best part about your transition from high school to college?
“The basketball side of it has been the best. Being able to play here and travel to different places is great. Now we get on planes and fly to places instead of getting on a bus and going up the road. Also, college classes don’t last the whole day, so your classes are spread out and you have gaps in the middle of the day.”
Is college everything you thought it would be?
“Yes, because you have a lot more on your shoulders. You have to be more independent and do more for yourself. You have to manage your time wisely. I used to just do stuff whenever I wanted to because I didn’t have a set schedule. But, now everything is on a timeline and you have to do more for yourself in order to get more accomplished.”
Describe yourself as a basketball player.
“I am coachable and I am hard working. I always want to win. I hate to lose, so I will do what it takes to win. I am determined to get stuff done and I try to get better everyday.”
What is your favorite spot on campus?
“Mirror Lake and The Oval are really cool. They both have many traditions. If I had some free time, I would probably go to either of them.”
Do you enjoy home games or away trips better?
“I like home games because my family and friends can come and watch. Playing at home is a lot easier because you are familiar with the court and everything. Road trips are fun, too, because you are playing in a major facility that you have heard about and it is neat being able to play there. It is always harder to play on the road, but it has its advantages.”
What has been the best road trip?
“The best was our trip to California because we got to visit different places. I really enjoyed being in California, but I didn’t enjoy losing to UCLA. Los Angeles was different scenery and getting to go on Rodeo Drive was cool. The best road victory in my opinion would probably be Michigan. We were on a down side where we had lost a couple of games and getting that victory helped us get motivated again.”
What do you plan to do after graduation?
“I am leaning towards pharmacy or something in the health field because that is something I have always been interested in. I might want to do physical therapy or occupational therapy. It all could change, but I know I want to lean toward the health field.”
Who are you the closest with on the team and why?
“I am close to a lot of people, but I am probably closest with Michelle (Muoz). We have a lot in common and we talk about a lot of stuff. She is easy to talk to and she listens if I need to tell her something or have a problem. But, the whole team is really close, which is one advantage that I really like. Everyone gets along and we do stuff as a team instead of individually.”
How has your role changed on the basketball court from high school to college?
“At first it was different because I was used to playing a lot (in high school). Ever since my freshman year, I played all of the time. Coming here was different. I have learned that you have to work hard and your spot is not guaranteed. If someone has a better practice or is doing better than you, then you need to work harder. I have learned to do my best everyday. All I can do is work hard and keep pushing myself.”
Do your parents come to your games? Have they traveled to an away game?
“My parents are really supportive of me. They have always done whatever they need to for me to get better. They always come to my home games and sometimes they go to away games. My dad went to the Michigan and Illinois games and my mom went to the Northwestern game.”
What do you miss about Lancaster?
“I just miss being with my friends from high school everyday. I miss the whole high school atmosphere sometimes.”
Since you are so close to home, do your friends come to games?
“My extended family lives around Lancaster and Columbus, so they come to a lot of my home games. Some of my friends also come to the home games if they don’t have plans.”
Do you enjoy being so close to home?
“One of my reasons for coming here was because I wanted to be close to home. If I need something, my family is just a phone call away and they can be here in a half hour. If I want to go home even just for something to eat, I have that opportunity. Every once in a while I drive home for the day just to visit.”
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you this season?
“We were in the weight room lifting weights and we were doing Plyo ball leg lifts. There was a hole in the ball and I didn’t know about it. I sat on the ball and it busted, so I fell to the ground and everyone started laughing. It was really embarrassing.”
What is something your fans don’t know about you?
“Well, I can’t dance and the team always laughs at me. I try to dance, but Brandie (Hoskins) and everyone on the team always laugh at me.”
What is it like playing for coach Foster?
“I like him a lot. He has taught me a lot and has made me a better player. I can only see the team keep progressing and getting stronger under coach Foster.”