Ross signs with University of the Ozarks

Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs senior Brooke Ross (seated, center) holds up a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville during a signing ceremony Monday at Siloam Springs High School. Also pictured are mother Jodina Ross, sister Natalie Ross (seated, right); (back from left) Siloam Springs head coach Beau Tillery and father Mark Ross.

Two months ago, Brooke Ross wasn't sure she wanted to keep playing basketball.

But in the time since her high school career ended, Ross, a senior at Siloam Springs, decided her career wasn't quite done yet.

Ross signed a letter of intent to play at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville in a signing ceremony held Monday inside Panther Activity Center at Siloam Springs High School.

Ross said she visited three schools, including the University Of Ozarks, and she knew the Clarksville school was the right fit for her.

"When I visited The Ozarks, something just clicked," she said. "I loved the school, the academics there and the coaches. The team's great too. It just felt right."

Ross was a three-year starter and three-time All-State selection for the Lady Panthers (20-10, 12-2 5A-West). Ross was part of the "Big Three" along with teammates Mimo Jacklik and Brooke Smith, who helped Siloam Springs win more than 50 games in three years and advance to the state tournament in each of the last two seasons. Jacklik signed with North Arkansas College and Smith inked with Ouachita Baptist last month.

Ross joked that Smith gave her a hard time about not signing on the same day as her teammates.

"Yeah Brooke Smith was getting on me, 'Think of all the pictures we could have taken, the Big Three, the opportunities,'" Ross said with a laugh.

Ross, who averaged around 12 points and seven rebounds per game for her career, hopes to make an impact immediately for the Division III Eagles, who went 9-16 in 2022-2023 and 6-12 in American Southwest Conference.

Ross said Ozarks head coach Shauna Watson expects her to make an immediate impact.

"She said I would have a good chance of being a starter at the end of the season, if not by the beginning," Ross said.

It's a well-deserved opportunity for Ross, according to Siloam Springs head coach Beau Tillery.

"She deserves to play somewhere," Tillery said. "There's zero doubt about that. I mean if you're talking just from a skill set point of view, she can play at a lot of different places."

Tillery said the coaches knew Ross was on the fence about playing in college and let her make the decision. Meanwhile, Tillery said he kept the phone lines open between coaches expressing interest.

"Ozarks was probably one of the first she visited and absolutely fell in love with the campus," Tillery said. "Coach (Watson) loved her and things kind of just fell right into place. We're super excited for her. I think she's going to be a great fit for that community, that area.

"That level is a really good fit for her. She'll do just as much as there as she did here and just be a stud and do really good things. And it's a really good school academically. She's a smart kid."