Rylee Leonard
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Eastern’s Rylee Leonard commits to Thomas More University

Eastern junior Rylee Leonard has found a collegiate basketball home.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

SARDINIA — In just two seasons at Eastern Brown, Rylee Leonard has left no doubt that she’s one of the best basketball players in the region.

Eastern’s Rylee Leonard has committed to Thomas More University.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

In both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Leonard has led the Warriors in scoring while displaying a splash-worthy jumper, a quick first step and elite ball-handling skills.

So it should come as no surprise that colleges have flocked to her recruitment process.

But there was one option that stood out above the rest.

Last week, Leonard committed to Thomas More University to continue her academic and athletic careers.

“Thomas More felt like home the very first time I visited. Personally, the academic side was just as important as the athletic side,” Leonard said. “The nursing program is one of the best in the region. As far as the athletic side of it, coach Jeff Hans and staff has built a very successful basketball program. On top of that, this will enable my family to support me through my college career due to the location.”

If you’ve watched her play over the past two seasons, you know that Leonard is the centerpiece of a dangerous offense. The Warriors’ offense has multiple weapons around Leonard but there’s no denying that she’s the engine that makes it go.

Of course, she’d never admit that. She gives credit where it’s due — which includes all of her support group.

“The support I’ve received from my family, [Eastern] coach [Kevin] Pickerill and staff, and all of my teammates is what made this possible,” Leonard said. “They have all constantly pushed me to be a better player and person every day, on and off the court. I’m most looking forward to challenging myself to compete at a very high level. I will keep having to improve my game in order to help Thomas More continue to be a successful program.”

As a sophomore, Leonard averaged 20.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 2.7 assists per game. She shot 79 percent from the free throw line and helped the Warriors win a second consecutive district championship.

Those numbers garnered all-district and All-Ohio honors with a full two seasons left in Sardinia.

It’s easy to see why Thomas More offered her a full-ride scholarship.

“Getting a full-ride scholarship to play the game I love has been a life-long goal for me. Finally committing to a school that is the perfect fit means everything to me,” Leonard said. “This is something I have worked for my whole life. The countless hours in the gym and all the hard work pays off.”

Now, for the next two seasons, she can simply relax and play the game she loves while continuing to develop.

“The pressure of finding a college where I felt was a perfect fit definitely has been lifted. It is a very stressful process. I know I committed early, but I felt like when I found the perfect fit there was no reason to wait,” Leonard said. “There is a lot of time and effort involved in the recruiting process as far as phone calls, visits, elite camps, and exposure events. I realize there was no need to go out of my way and give other schools my time that, in reality, I wouldn’t go to. I appreciate all of the schools that showed interest and gave me opportunities to continue my academic and athletic career. It means a lot.”

This coming winter, Leonard will be one of several returners for Eastern Brown — a program that also has a few new pieces to play. The Warriors will be looking to defend a Southern Hills Athletic Conference title and, of course, yet another district trophy.

But according to expectations surrounding them, this could also be the year the Warriors head back to Dayton.

Leonard, with pressure off her shoulders and Thomas More-bound, will undoubtedly be leading that charge.

“The game will not change that much for me. I will continue to play to the best of my abilities, no matter who is watching,” Leonard said. “I’m looking forward to the next two years at Eastern Brown. The community’s support is like no other and I am surrounded by the best teammates anyone could ask for. The coaching staff has done so much for me and I am so thankful to be at such a great place.”

Share this post