Twinsburg's Malina Howard was recruited by every major women's basketball program in the country. In the end it came down to just two top programs with Howard giving an oral comitment to Maryland over Notre Dame.
Howard, the 6-5 senior post player who led the Tigers to last season, visited both campuses over the past two weekends. She decided on attending Maryland and playing for the Lady Terrapins, who won the national title in 2006.
"I chose Maryland because of the academic factor," said Howard. "They have the number two kinesiology program in the country. It's also only about five hours away which is not too far."
Howard will be a post player for the Lady Terrapins but hopes to be able to display her talents as a shooter as well. "I've really been working on my mid-range jumper this summer," she said.
Howard averaged 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks as the Lady Tigers won the state championship in March. She added a FIBA U19 World Championship playing for the United States team in Chile this summer.
"She was in limbo the last few months but ultimately she felt that Maryland was the best fit socially, academically and athletically," said Twinsburg head coach Julie Solis. "I'm just really happy for her and now she can relax and enjoy her senior year. Malina is a person who really takes things to heart and I'm glad this is off her shoulders."
"I wanted to get this out of the way but I didn't want to rush my decision," said Howard. "It became a little stressful but it was also a big honor to know that many schools wanted me."
Solis feels Howard can display a more diversified game in college.
"We use her with her back to the basket a lot but the biggest growth I've seen in her game are her moves in the paint," said Solis. "She's a very good shooter from the arc and can light it up from out there."
Howard and Twinsburg will be one of the teams to beat in Division I again this season. The Lady Tigers were nationally ranked last year and will play several other highly regarded teams, competing in the Tennessee Turkey Jam in addition to a tourney in Kentucky, the Classic in the Country and Twinsburg's own holiday tournament, the Fight or Flight Invitational.
"We have a bigger target on our backs this year," said Howard. "Teams out there want to beat us more than anything. I'm really excited and everyone on the team is ready to start practicing."
"You very rarely get a team like this," said Solis. "We're not afraid to put it on the line and play the best teams out there."
Maryland is one of the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference and won the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Howard is expected to sign with the Terrapins in November.