Stephanie Mavunga received a text from her older brother, Julian, earlier this month and beamed.

When Ohio State travels to Bloomington on Jan. 13 to face Indiana, Julian will be in the stands to watch her play a college game.

The occasion is long overdue, delayed by years of scheduling conflicts. Since starring for Miami University from 2008-12, Julian Mavunga has played abroad — he currently plays for Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan — and hasn’t been able to return during his basketball season for one of his sister’s college games with North Carolina or Ohio State.

“It’s different when you’re getting critiqued over the phone, but to see him in person and look in the stands and see him is phenomenal,” she said.

The visit is important because Julian is one of the biggest reasons the all-Big Ten forward began playing basketball in the first place. A 6-foot-8 forward with a vast skill set, he has helped Mavunga broaden her game and step out of her comfort zone on the court.

He also played a key role in a summer transformation that added considerable versatility to her game. After Ohio State’s Nov. 10 season opener, in which Mavunga hauled in a career-high 26 rebounds against Stanford, coach Kevin McGuff said Mavunga made great strides over the summer, when she changed her body and improved her fitness.

Some of that work came at Ohio State, where Mavunga spent summer and fall workouts in a hoodie and made progress with the team’s training staff to become more agile.

A large chunk also took place at home near Indianapolis, where she and her brothers, Julian and younger brother Jordache, a guard for Parkland, a junior college in Champaign, Illinois, spent long days sweating in pursuit of their basketball goals.

Mavunga said an early change this summer was switching outside trainers to Rob Blackwell, who trains a handful of Indianapolis-area pros.

“You’d have people in the gym like (former Kentucky guard) Marquis Teague, my older brother and a bunch of pros that are around Indiana,” she said. “I want to be the best and so just having that skill set around me and people D-ing up on me was great, especially when Marquis sits down because he’s one of the best guards I’ve ever seen.”

She also got a few opportunities to play with her sister-in-law, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga of the Indiana Fever, a guard Mavunga said “shoots the lights out.”

The Mavungas put in a few sibling workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers and Fever, but made plenty of trips to the YMCA in downtown Indianapolis to play pickup games, Stephanie said.

During a typical summer day away from Ohio State, she said, she would pick up Julian, head to the YMCA to do an ab and yoga circuit, head to another workout, eat, lift, play pickup basketball and spend a few minutes in the sauna.

“There’s that constant competition playing with the guys and (Julian) put me in those situations and him picking me up first or second and everyone being like, ‘What?’ ” she said. “And he would just feed me and say, ‘Go to work’ and gas me up. That confidence he instilled in me pushed me to be a better player.”

The days piled up, and soon others began to notice her transformation.

Her father returned from working on the road and saw a difference. Mavunga took a pair of trips to the Bahamas and England over the summer, during which teammates took note of her pictures on social media.

“Linnae Harper, she saw a picture of me on Snapchat and she was like, ‘Bro, are you eating?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m good,’ ” Mavunga said. “I felt and could see the progression in the pictures. It just puts things in perspective.”

Said McGuff: “I knew she was taking it seriously. We could kind of see the results coming.”

The result so far has been Mavunga more comfortably spending longer stretches of time on the floor and running in transition — a signature piece of the Ohio State offense — with relative ease.

Through 13 games, Mavunga is averaging 15.5 points and 11.6 rebounds.  

“That was a big part of it because it plays to what our style plays and the more she runs the floor obviously the more impact she can have on the game, and so it’s been great to see,” McGuff said. “She’s just more consistent running the floor and that creates a lot of positive things.”

Chalk up Jan. 13 as another positive for Mavunga, as a celebration of both the sweat she put in with her family over the summer and being together with her brother and his friends again.

“It’s always fun, sibling workouts in the summer,” she said. “We always laugh and joke around that if we had a sibling showdown in Indiana, then you wouldn’t want to see (the Mavungas).”