The familiarity is leading Emilee Fox to pursue college basketball in Brookings.
The Mount Vernon sophomore announced on Oct. 7 that she has accepted a scholarship offer to South Dakota State University to play basketball.
Fox, a 5-foot-8 guard in her sophomore year for the Mount Vernon/Plankinton Titans, chose the Jackrabbits over Wisconsin-Green Bay, the University of Nebraska, the University of North Dakota, DePaul University and the University of South Dakota.
Not only did Fox want to play for a prestigious program close to home so her family could attend games, but she wanted to be able to play with former AAU teammates.
“I’ve always sort of knew SDSU was what I wanted," Fox said. " I think just knowing so many other people have committed already, just makes me feel even more confident with my decision because I know I'm going to be surrounded by good people.”
Fox will have the opportunity to play with former AAU teammate Hilary Behrens, who committed to SDSU on Sept. 21, 2021. Behrens is a junior who plays for Brandon Valley High School, but her and Fox played together on a South Dakota Network club team.
She's also played with Brooklyn Meyer, a 6-foot-2 senior forward from West Lyon High School in Iowa, who has committed to SDSU in the class of 2022. Fox and Meyer were AAU teammates two years ago on the South Dakota Attack.
Along with the connections she's made with other Jackrabbit recruits, Fox said the relationship she's built with SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston has been important to her.
Fox has been a varsity player since seventh grade and Johnston, the reigning Summit League Coach of the Year, offered Fox a scholarship before her eighth-grade season began. Fox said the longtime SDSU coach — who is in his 21st year and has 18 20-win seasons leading the Jacks — is someone that’s been honest with her throughout the entire process.
The sophomore standout also pointed to the track record of SDSU's players as being something that's appealing to her. Fox said watching former South Dakota standouts like Macy Miller attend SDSU and be successful is something that gives her faith that she can follow in those footsteps and that she made the right decision.
“Like we saw from Macy Miller, as a guard you can accomplish great things and I feel like it will be a great fit,” Fox said.
Miller, a Mitchell native, holds the record for SDSU and Summit League career women's basketball scoring at 2,355 points and was a two-time conference player of the year, helping the Jackrabbits reach the NCAA tournament four times and the Sweet 16 for first time in program history in 2019.
With a college future now in place, Fox is now looking for more success with the Titans, who made the Class A state tournament in 2019 and reached the SoDak 16 round in 2020. Last year, she averaged 19.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.3 steals last season, shot 51 percent from the field and was named Class A all-state first team as a freshman, but still believes she has things to address in her game before reaching the collegiate level.
“I definitely shoot outside a lot so I want to get to the rim more and become more aggressive,” Fox said.