by Kayla Thomas, Ohio State Athletics Communications student assistant

Jantel Lavender will go down in Ohio State women’s basketball history as one of the most decorated players to suit up in the Scarlet and Gray. The senior from Cleveland has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week 17 times and has scored over 2,400 points during her time at Ohio State. In addition, the three-time defending Big Ten Player of the year has scored in double figures in every game for the Buckeyes.

Q: As your career is nearing its close, what are you most excited and most nervous about?
A: I want to win games. I am not too excited about our record right now. My main focus is to get wins and be a leader for my teammates. I want to get back to how Ohio State basketball is normally played. We are trying to focus on that every day in practice and get better as we go along.

Q: What has it meant to have your sister, Jazmine, along for the ride these past four years?
A: It means so much. She is my best friend. We do everything together and she keeps it real with me. I am glad she wanted to come to school with me. Some people want to take their own path in life but she wanted to come here and be with me and I really value her being here. I love her for that.

Q: You’re on pace to become Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer, and possibly the leading scorer in Big Ten history. How does that make you feel that you’re passing up all of these Big Ten greats?
A: It’s a representation of hard work and my dedication to the game. I really love this game and I want to get as much out of it as I can in the years that I am able to play. I think that you go hard or you go home. My teammates and coaches have helped me and all of the records that are being broken are a combination of everybody and what we put into the program.

Q: What’s been the most exciting moment for you so far in your career?
A: Last year in the Big Ten tournament championship game against Iowa. We were down 18 points at halftime and we came back and won the game. It was a great team effort. I love team efforts and team wins.

Q: You’re projected to be a high pick in the WNBA Draft. Have you always wanted to play in the WNBA?
A: I think so. I think people get misconstrued to thinking that they want to get to the next level so quick. I really value being in college but that is my ultimate goal. My main focus right now is to win for Ohio State and take Ohio State to an NCAA championship and prove to people that we are a team to be reckoned with.

Q: What is the best advice you have been given during your career?
A: When my coach from USA Basketball says something like “no matter how much people doubt you, you know what you can do in your heart.” It also was an uplifting thing when she said to me “you know you’re a beast and I know you’re a beast and don’t let anyone ever take that from you. Always keep that in your heart.”

Q: No matter how this regular season ends, how hungry and determined will you be come March?
A: 100% determined! We have to start winning games in order to be where we want to be in March. I want to win a national championship and show the country what Ohio State basketball can do.

Q: What advice would you leave for your teammates when you graduate?
A: Play hard and have fun with the game. Realize that it is a blessing to play and have the opportunity to go to college for free. Relish every moment that you have here and don’t think to the future. Always live in the present.