Mikayla Reese was a recruiting target in middle school. She'll enter the second half of high school with the process behind her.
Reese – a 5-foot-8 guard from Sand Creek – recently gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at Oklahoma State, ending a journey that began with her first scholarship offer from the Cowgirls in eighth grade.
"She's been on a lot of campuses," Reese's father, Herman Reese said. "She's had 37 offers from little schools to a lot of the Big 12 schools."
Reese has gained exposure from playing on traveling club teams since the third grade. She currently plays for the GSB Nike Elite team that is traveling throughout the country with games in Dallas, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Representatives from Oklahoma State contacted Reese the day after the November plane crash that killed coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna.
"Even after the accident they were always hot and heavy after her," Herman Reese said.
Budke's replacement, Jim Littell, signed an extension after Oklahoma State's NIT championship that capped its tragic season. Herman Reese said the coach was only part of the allure for a program that the Reese family sees as up-and-coming and home to some of the best guard play in the Big 12.
"She has visited Oklahoma State three times, so she knows that whether the coach is there or not, she wanted to go to school there," Herman Reese said.
As a sophomore, Reese led Sand Creek with averages of 13.6 points, 3.3 assists and 3.5 steals. She scored 22 points in a 51-46 victory over Windsor that pushed the Scorpions into the 4A quarterfinals.
Her 346 field-goal attempts ranked second among 4A Colorado Springs Metro players, but it's Reese’s quickness and ball-handling abilities that stood out as her strengths. She's expected to play point guard in college.
Sand Creek coach Jamie Carey is no stranger to the recruiting process herself as a college and then WNBA player and now an employee of USA Basketball overseeing some of the nation's best women's players. Carey said she has made herself available to Reese as a resource. However, Carey said the guard and her family have navigated largely on their own.
"I offer my two cents when she asks, but I'm pretty sure she had a good handle on this whole process and what she wanted," said Carey, who added that she was not surprised that Reese committed so early.
Reese's father, a Fountain-Fort Carson graduate, played basketball at Division II Fort Hays State and her uncle, Terrance Reese, played football at Wyoming.
Herman Reese said Mikayla's recruitment process was "at a completely different level" than anything they had experienced.
Verbal commitments are nonbinding, giving Reese nearly a year-and-a-half to consider options before she would be eligible to sign an official letter of intent.