After adding three players already to its 2024 recruiting class, the Ohio State women’s basketball team isn’t done. On Tuesday, head coach Kevin McGuff added his fourth commit in Finland youth international Elsa Lemmilä. The center announced the commitment on Instagram.
Lemmilä is a 6-foot-6 center who plays with youth club Tapiolan Honka, in her native Finland. Outside of club basketball, Lemmilä’s represented her country on the senior and multiple youth levels.
With Honka, Lemmilä averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. On the international stage, Lemmilä’s only played for the Finnish senior side five times, most recently in February. The center had 15 rebounds and 12 points across the two games.
When playing against opponents Lemmilä’s age, at the youth level, the center’s excelled. In the 2022 women’s U18 European Championship, the big was seventh in the tournament averaging 9 rebounds per game, and 10th overall in scoring with 12.9 points per game.
The center’s addition to the Buckeyes adds a solid presence to the paint for future Ohio State sides. Lemmilä will join incoming 2023 freshman center Faith Carson for the next generation of scarlet and gray centers. It also continues the program’s trend of bringing in European bigs.
Since the 2018/19 season, the five-position’s been held by either Hungarian Dorka Juhász or Slovakian Rebeka Mikulášiková.
Over three seasons, Juhász was vital for the success of McGuff’s Buckeyes. The forward averaged 13 points and 9.6 rebounds for Ohio State before transferring to perennial college basketball powerhouse UConn.
Since the start of the 21/22 season, it’s been Mikulášiková at the helm following Juhász’ transfer. Mikulášiková brought size and the ability to shoot from deep.
After starting one game in 44 appearances in Mikulášiková’s first two seasons, the forward started 57 of 63 games over the past two years. The only time Mikulášiková went to a bench role was the end of the 22/23 season, after suffering an ankle injury.
Something that Lemmilä doesn’t have that the other two European Buckeyes possessed was the ability to shoot from three-point range. In the 22/23 season for Honka, Lemmilä took 25 attempts in 27 games, hitting four of those attempts.
In McGuff’s 5-out offense, bigs who can shoot from distance are usually favored, but Ohio State’s late run saw the Buckeyes’ head coach steer away from that with forward Eboni Walker. With Walker starting, Ohio State made it to the Elite Eight, before losing to the Virginia Tech Hokies. It shows the adaptability of the system under McGuff’s tenure.
If Lemmilä can join, adjust and make an impact in the rebounding game, it’ll help a program who was ranked 11th in the Big Ten in rebounds per game.
Lemmilä will join in 2024 with guard Ava Watson, forward Ella Hobbs and guard/forward Seini Hicks.
Before any of the class joins, Ohio State has to play its 23/24 season. It tips off Nov. 6, in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s when the Buckeyes face the University of Southern California Trojans in the Naismith Hall of Fame event.