OTTAWA – Noah Bramlage remembers his first big basketball road trip. All 10 miles of it.
“My dad took me to Carter Lumber in Columbus Grove and we got a big sheet of wood and he nailed a rim onto it and put a net on it and made it real low. I was three or four years old,” Bramlage said.
Since that first road trip, Bramlage’s basketball journey has taken him to a state championship two years ago at Ottawa-Glandorf, a state semifinalist appearance with the Titans in 2012 and a near miss last year as a regional runner-up.
The 6-foot, 7-inch post player is hoping for another long tournament run for O-G this year. Then he will make maybe the biggest leap yet in his hoops travels when he steps into NCAA Division I basketball and the highly competitive academic atmosphere of an Ivy League school at Princeton in September.
The more than 20 scholarship offers from schools like Miami, Toledo, Akron and Wright State – where his dad, Lincoln, played in the 1990s – told Bramlage he would be playing college basketball somewhere. But it wasn’t until last summer that the idea of going to the Ivy League took hold.
“It was probably around August that I really started to think about my future and what an Ivy League education could do for me,” Bramlage said. “I never imagined when I started being recruited in my sophomore year that I would ever land at an Ivy League school. I never really thought of it as an option.”
Bramlage is averaging 21.7 points and 10.4 rebounds a game this season. He went over the 1,000-point mark in December and currently has 1,269 points. On the academic side, he has a 3.9 grade point average and a 27 on the ACT.
Academics has always been emphasized, along with basketball, in Bramlage’s family. His mother, Jenell, has two graduate degrees and teaches at the University of Northwestern Ohio. An older sister is getting a master’s degree at UNOH and an older brother goes to Xavier University.
After becoming a starter midway through his freshman season, it was apparent Bramlage was no ordinary ninth grader. As the Titans made their way to Columbus, it was also evident he didn’t seem like a freshman off the court, either.
Among other things, the media attention that comes with postseason success didn’t faze him. And it wasn’t just in press conferences that he was unintimidated.
“Sometimes it’s like he’s a 36-year-old in a 16-year-old’s situation,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said.
“As a freshman, once the seniors kind of accepted him and understood what was at hand, that’s when our season took off. By the end of it, he was getting up and giving the prayers at our team meal. He’s just very comfortable with who he is.
“He’s a unique kid. I think the Ivy League is a good fit for him,” he said.
The fact that Ivy League schools treat their players in a way that is somewhat unique in Division I is one of the things that made Princeton’s offer interesting to Bramlage.
“I think one of the big differences is they don’t own you during the summers,” he said. “At non-Ivy schools, guys are forced to go to summer school and be on campus practicing and working out, where in the Ivy League they really encourage you to go home for a while. They give you internships and encourage you to go out and work for major corporations and use the networking the university gives you to start planning for a future.”
Dreaming about his basketball future started around the same time his dad secured that backboard from the lumber yard to a basketball pole in the driveway. That’s when the idea of playing college basketball started.
“That (playing in college) has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a toddler,” Bramlage said.
Those small steps started it. Now he’s taking big ones.