Carly Santoro’s decision to join Ohio State women’s basketball as a graduate transfer is about education in addition to basketball.

In her final year of eligibility, the 5-feet-10 guard from Bellevue, Ohio and three-year player at Bowling Green is expected to be a key rotation player for an Ohio State team that loses five seniors.

Off the court, she looks forward to the opportunity to study speech-language pathology at Ohio State and participate in a respected program.

“In the long run that’s what I’m going to get my master’s in and being able to go to Ohio State and do that would be awesome,” Santoro said. “I love being able to help kids. I want to work with the younger kids and being able to help kids be effective communicators and be able to have some confidence in themselves is a rewarding job. To be able to know that I’m making a difference in someone’s life is going to be rewarding.”

Santoro’s process of seeking a graduate transfer was a quick one. Her junior season at Bowling Green ended March 5 and on Monday her father, Kory, announced that she would play her final year of college basketball at Ohio State.

Santoro said she visited Ohio State and had to chance to speak with the coaching staff. So did her dad and some of her former coaches.

“I obviously talked to them a lot, that was a big part of why I wanted to be able to come to Ohio State,” she said. “(My father and former coaches) reached out to them and kind wanted to talk to them and see how I’d fit in and it’s gonna be a great fit for me. I’m super excited because with them losing a great senior class, I have a great opportunity to step into something.”

Even as a guard, Santoro has found a knack for rebounding, leading the Falcons with 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a junior. She also averaged 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals and was named to the 2017-18 Academic All-MAC team with a 3.843 GPA.

Santoro started 61 games and scored 874 points over three seasons with Bowling Green. She averaged more than seven rebounds in each of her last two seasons and attempted 180 free throws as a junior.

“Definitely, I’m a rebounding guard. I’ve grown into that role at BG and I plan to use that next year as well,” Santoro said. “I love to drive and be able to score at the rim and be able to get to the free throw line, so those are definitely my strengths.”

She joins an Ohio State team in need of rotation players after the graduation of Kelsey Mitchell, Stephanie Mavunga, Linnae Harper, Asia Doss and Alexa Hart.

Redshirt juniors Sierra Calhoun and Makayla Waterman have informed coaches they will return and play their respective redshirt senior seasons and Jensen Caretti will be back along with walk-ons-turned-scholarship players Savitha Jayaraman and Karlie Cronin. Chelsea Mitchell’s status is unclear after she was away from the team for much of her redshirt junior season to focus on academics.

Guard Janai Crooms of Rhode Island and forwards Aaliyah Patty of Illinois and Dorka Juhasz of Hungary will play for the Buckeyes as freshmen next season. Najah Queenland, formerly of Pacific, will also join Ohio State as a graduate transfer next season.

Santoro is on track to graduate from Bowling Green in May with a degree in communication sciences and disorders. After that, it’s on to Columbus.

“I’m super excited to get my undergrad done and take my step toward my master’s,” Santoro said. “Obviously Bowling Green has been great to me and I’ve met a lot of people and this university has blessed me with a lot of opportunity, so obviously walking away will be hard, but I’m definitely excited to get to Columbus and start my next step at OSU and just be able to take an opportunity and seize it.”

aerickson@dispatch.com

@AEricksonCD