The University of Connecticut came calling. So did South Carolina, Oklahoma,
Auburn, Xavier, and Maryland, among others.
Those schools all wanted the services of Waite senior Natasha Howard. In the end, Howard, a 6-3 guard-forward, chose Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Fla.
"Their players have good chemistry with the coaches," Howard said. "The distance doesn't bother me. It doesn't matter. The campus is real nice. I can see myself down there right now."
Howard signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Seminoles during a press conference at Waite on Nov. 13. She was surrounded by her mother, Latasha, along with aunts, uncles, cousins, her godmother and teammates.
"It was great when I (signed)," Howard said. "Everybody was there supporting me and I was pretty happy about that."
Howard's father, Scoop Williams, was a standout basketball player at the University of Toledo.
Waite girls’ basketball coach Manny May said the day Howard signed with FSU "was a good day for her and her family, to get that load lifted off her."
"She loves it at Florida State," May said. "She went down there for a basketball camp, and a big kid from Sandusky is on the team down there. That girl told Natasha, 'If you ever want to come home with me, I'll bring you home.' That's half the battle right there. Sandusky is only 50 miles from Toledo."
Cierra Bravard, a 6-4 sophomore from Sandusky Perkins High School, was a standout at FSU a year ago, when she was named to the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman team.
"We scrimmaged each other my freshman year," Howard said. "She hit me in my lip and my lip got swollen. When I was (at FSU), she kept bringing that up, like, 'Remember when I hit your lip?' "
Howard, a first-team All-Ohio selection as a sophomore, is a three-time first-team All-City League and all-district selection.
She enters the 2009-10 season with 1,097 career points and averaged 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds as a junior. Several scouting services rate her as one of the top senior small forwards in the nation.
Howard plans to major in business at FSU. The Seminoles have three seniors on this year's roster.
"They said I would probably get a lot of playing time next year," Howard said. "I wanted to play right away. I will play the 'three' or 'four' position. Their coaches want me to get stronger and take over the game when I need to take over."
Coach Sue Semrau is in her 13th season and is the all-time winningest coach in Florida State women's basketball history. Semrau's 2008-09 Seminoles reached the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fifth consecutive time and achieved the highest national rankings in program history (No. 11 AP and No. 12 USA Today/ESPN).
Semrau was named the 2008-09 ACC Coach of the Year for the third time in her career.
Howard said signing with FSU before the start of her senior season is a relief.
"It's made it easier," she said. "I can focus on my classwork and my ACT. I can be more focused on the court and not feel as much pressure as far as what I'm going to do with college. I can worry about my teammates more, on and off the court."