Next time you see Ruth Hamblin, she may be scoring a basket on ESPN.
On Nov. 9, the Houston high school senior signed on for a full-ride basketball scholarship at Oregon State University (OSU)—a huge jump for a player who got into the sport just three years ago.
“It’s been exponential,” Hamblin said. “I actually didn’t play basketball until Grade 9.”
Hamblin credits science teacher Wendal Ewald for getting her onto a basketball court in the first place. It wasn’t until Ewald started coaching the girls team at Houston Christian School that she had someone to show her the ropes, she said.
From then on, Hamblin’s own Oregon trail has been uphill all the way.
“By second year, I was a starter and we got third at provincials, and last year we won,” she said.
Awarded Most Valuable Player for her work with the HCS Wildcats last year, Hamblin has also been doubling back to Vancouver to play for B.C. teams.
“The provincial teams have definitely given me that edge, especially because we go to play in the States,” she said, noting that U.S. play brings elite-level coaches and tough competition.
“I get to play against other tall girls, so you really have to learn. Some girls were 6’5 and 250 pounds!”
Standing 6’6, Hamblin is a bona fide tall girl herself.
Tall and swift, she is a natural fit to play centre, where her mission is to rush to the basket and hold the key for scoring chances.
Oregon head coach Scott Rueck said Hamblin brings a lot of skill to match her size.
“It is not easy to find a true centre, and we are blessed to have Ruth join the team,” he said. “She runs the floor very well, scores with her back to the basket and possesses an outstanding work ethic.”
That work ethic will help Hamblin both on and off the court.
OSU competes in PAC-12, a top-tier conference that some of the highest-ranked teams in U.S. college sports.
And when she’s not playing one 30 regular season basketball games, Hamblin will be hitting the books as an engineering student.
“I’ve always been very inventive,” she said. “And I’ve been enjoying physics a lot, too.”
With the Pacific coast just 45 minutes away, the engineering college at OSU is a leader in wave energy research. It includes faculty like José Reyes, who designed a nuclear reactor with an emergency shut-down system that requires no people or electronic feedbacks to work.
“It will be a great four years, and I think the impact that it will have on my life will extend beyond those four years,” Hamblin said.
After visiting the OSU campus in Corvallis, a town of 53,000 that is two hours south of Portland, Hamblin said she is looking forward to the move.
“It’s got a small-town feel,” she said. “It’s very much a college town and everybody supports the Beavers.”
If playing for the OSU Beavers sounds like a Canadian sort of move, it completes a picture.
Asked to share her proudest moment in basketball so far, the high-flying Hamblin has a down-to-earth answer—winning “Most Sportsmanlike” team with the HCS Wildcats at provincials last year.
“We play basketball—we don’t need to down the refs,” she said. “You win by playing well, and that’s what we showed.”