Mayla Ham’s Unofficial visit with the Georgetown University Women’s basketball team went so well in August that she didn’t need to wait to take an official one later this winter.
The Wayne Memorial senior was already sold.
The 5-foot-11 small forward verbally committed to the Hoyas on Sunday night, writing a personal post on her Twitter account about her college decision.
“The Unofficial really sold me,” Ham told Hometown Life on Monday afternoon. “Everything we did there was something you do on your official. But it wasn’t official. As soon as I got there, they showed the most love. It’s one of the best academic schools, and I’m big on academics. That was something that really pushed me forward. I was thinking about going into physical therapy or sports medicine, and I can do that there.”
For those not in the know about how recruiting works, there’s a big difference between unofficial and official visits.
Anyone can take an unofficial visit, assuming they’re invited. Basically, players get to tour the school, talk with coaches and get an inside look at how things are done within the program. However, players must pay their own way there.
But an official visit is where colleges get to pull out all the stops. They can pay for a player and their family to fly in for a game or a practice and give the Recruit a top-flight, VIP experience all on the college’s dime.
The fact Ham didn’t get Georgetown’s best recruiting experience says just how badly they wanted her to come to Washington, DC to play basketball. They made the Unofficial visit feel as official as possible.
“I fell in love with the city, the facility and the coaches,” Ham added. “It’s an all-Black coaching staff, and that stood out to me the most. I want to be part of the culture there. I want to help them be at the top of the Big East over the next couple of years.”
More:PHOTOS: Brother Rice 4-star Recruit Curtis Williams commits to Louisville
More:Louisville basketball gets commitment from Brother Rice 4-star Recruit Curtis Williams
Coincidentally, the Hoyas stopped by one of Wayne’s open gyms since Ham’s visit and even offered her teammate, sophomore Colleena Bryant, one of the top point guards in Michigan.
Ham averaged 14.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game a year ago for the Zebras, who made their second trip to the Division 1 final four with Ham on the team. She was a first-teamer on Hometown Life’s All-Area girls basketball team, and she’ll be our Pre-Season Player of the Year once the winter rolls around. And she will likely be a Michigan Miss Basketball nominee when the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan assembles its first watch list.
She currently holds 10 Division I college offers and was strongly considering Central Michigan, Georgia and North Dakota. But the Hoyas are clearly a better fit for her game.
“They said I can come in and be an athletic wing who can score,” she said. “They know I can score multiple ways, and I should be able to play a lot as a freshman. They have a couple of wings, but they feel like I can take over the wing role because I can go get a bucket.”
The Zebras, 23-3 overall a year ago, should be a favorite to make a state title run in 2022-23.
They graduated just two seniors, which included center Davai Matthews, who is now at Long Beach State.
But they return Ham and shooting guard Paris Bass as their senior veterans, Bryant as their steady ball handler and Alexis Halley, who hasn’t had a chance to shine just yet because of injuries but is a promising athlete.
Unfortunately, they lost shooting guard Mia Bazzi, who transferred to Dearborn over the summer. But they will welcome in a slew of talented freshmen who have already proven themselves on the travel circuits.
“I’m just happy it’s (recruiting) all over, and it’s definitely a stress reliever,” Ham said. “I’m ready to focus on my team and focus on winning a state championship. We have unfinished business still.”
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsobrandonj.