The new-look Ohio State women’s basketball team was unveiled Wednesday morning with talk of a desire to become a more fast-break oriented outfit.
That afternoon the program got good news in terms of how that evolution from a more plodding style will continue in the future when Samantha Prahalis, a five-star senior point guard from Commack, N.Y., committed to head coach Jim Foster and the Buckeyes.
While the Buckeyes plan to pick up the pace this year in regards to tempo, all indications are Prahalis, a 5-7 blur with the ball in her hands, could push them to warp speed a year from now.
She averaged 23.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5.2 assists per contest last year as a junior while committing 2.1 turnovers per game. She shot 42.6 percent from the field and made 49 of 146 three-pointers (33.6 percent) in 23 games.
Her highlight-reel repertoire of passes and shots when displayed in various summer leagues and tournaments has drawn countless admirers and even earned her the nickname, “Pistol Pete with a pony tail.”
While her high school coach said that tag was a bit of a misnomer – Pete Maravich was known as a conscience-free gunner who averaged more than 40 points per game in a three-year college career at LSU, while Prahalis is a true point guard –Denis Conroy said his pupil is worthy of much of the high praise she gets.
“She has a very entertaining style of play, and obviously when you watch her the first time, that’s what catches your eye,” Conroy told BuckeyeSports.com. “She does things on the court that get you out of your seat. She has a knack for making the spectacular pass or the crowd-pleasing play.
“But there’s a lot of meat-and-potatoes to her game, too. Her fundamentals are very sound, and she uses the other aspects of her game – the creativity and stuff – as a weapon to kind of break teams down and get the crowd involved in the game.”
For her willingness to share the rock, Conroy suggested a more apt comparison than Maravich would be a fellow New York-area guard: NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy of Queens.
For a more contemporary comparison, Conroy submitted the name of Sue Bird, another area product who went on to star at Connecticut and now plays in the WNBA for the Seattle Storm.
“The thing you’re probably going to notice about (Prahalis) the most is her ball-handling is really tremendous,” Conroy said. “She’s very, very quick and skilled with the ball and she has the ability to break down her defenders and that’s part of the spectacle of it in terms of the way she can put moves together to create a situation that can lead to a scoring opportunity.”
The coach added that Prahalis possesses a good jumper with virtually limitless range, though he speculated she will need to add some consistency to her shot as she moves up in levels of competition.
“She’s got pretty much everything you need and as she gets even more polished and confident she’s going to be very hard to guard because you can’t play a kid like that up in her face because she’s going to go by you, and if you play off her, she can stick the three in your face, so you’ve got to pick your poison.”
In terms of a defensive presence, Conroy said Prahalis is tenacious on the ball but will need to learn to control her aggressiveness when she gets to college.
“She’s definitely got all of the tools to be an excellent defensive player,” he said.