Across multiple sports, these ten athletes have represented the tri-state area on the professional stage.

Alumni in the news 
https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2022/06/18/greater-cincinnati-prep-stars-having-outstanding-pro-careers/7634790001/
Across multiple sports, these ten athletes have represented the tri-state area on the professional stage.

Ten greater Cincinnati athletes excelling in the professional ranks

Brendan Connelly
Cincinnati Enquirer
 
 
 
 

No matter the level of competition, Cincinnatians have always taken pride in homegrown talent. Here are 10 former high school stars from the Tristate who are having superb professional careers.

Rose Lavelle, OL Reign/ United States Women's National Team

Among Cincinnatians currently in the pros, Lavelle is arguably the most accomplished. 

U.S. women's soccer team player Rose Lavelle greets fans after being honored during halftime of the MLS soccer match between FC Cincinnati and D.C. United on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Cincinnati.
 

The Mount Notre Dame grad quickly ascended the ranks during her time at the University of Wisconsin on the way to the number one overall pick in the 2017 National Women's Soccer League draft. On the club scene, Lavelle has spent time with the Boston Breakers, Washington Spirit, Manchester City and her current club, OL Reign.

Her greatest moments, however, have come as a member of the international squad. Lavelle was first called up to the senior national team in 2017. She broke through in the 2019 FIFA World Cup, scoring three goals including one in the final against the Netherlands.

Lavelle won the bronze ball, given to the tournament's third-best player. Two years later, she won a bronze medal with the national team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Off the field, Lavelle has made her love for her hometown known. In a 2021 interview with The Enquirer's Pat Brennan, Lavelle said, "I'm so happy any time I'm able to come home but to get to come home and kind of show off the city to all my teammates, I'm so excited about it."

More:Rose Lavelle talks next generation of USWNT, TQL Stadium and returning to Cincinnati for Paraguay friendly

The USWNT has visited Cincinnati twice during Lavelle's tenure, defeating New Zealand 3-0 in 2017 at Nippert Stadium and beating Paraguay 4-0 in November 2021 at TQL Stadium. Lavelle had one goal and three assists against Paraguay. 

Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals

What's better for a Cincinnati kid than to play for his hometown team? Hubbard, a Moeller grad, played his college ball at Ohio State before being drafted by the Bengals in 2018.

Sam Hubbard, seen here during organized team activities, has seen his career path take an upward trajectory. Entering his fifth year as a pro, he will look to lead the Bengals back to the postseason.
 

In his four seasons with the Bengals, Hubbard has seen it all. His first season was Marvin Lewis' last. He was part of a two-year rebuild in which the team had a combined record of 6-25-1. In each of his first three seasons, the Bengals finished last in the AFC North. Still, Hubbard remained a key part of Cincinnati's defense.

After a 2020 season in which he missed time due to injury, Hubbard returned in a big way in 2021. He recorded 62 tackles (12 for loss) and 7.5 sacks in the regular season. Hubbard's biggest performance may have come in the AFC Championship against the Kansas City Chiefs when he recorded eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Bengals' 27-24 overtime win to advance to Super Bowl LVI.

Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals

Much like Lavelle, Benintendi made a name for himself in college. After graduating from Madeira High School, Benintendi spent two years at Arkansas, where he was named the 2015 college player of the year by Baseball America and won the Dick Houser Award and the Golden Spikes, both given to the best player in college baseball.

Benintendi was drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in 2015, spending six years with the organization.
 

Benintendi was drafted seventh overall by the Boston Red Sox in 2015, made his major league debut in August 2016 and enjoyed the first five years of his professional career in Beantown. He finished second in the 2017 Rookie of the Year voting and won the 2018 World Series.

More:Meet 13 players from Greater Cincinnati high schools/colleges on MLB rosters

Before the start of the 2021 season, Benintendi was traded to the Kansas City Royals. In his first season with his new team, he hit .276. His defensive play always helped him stand out as an outfielder, and a .987 fielding percentage helped him win his first Gold Glove.  

A few fun facts about Benintendi: He also played basketball at Madeira and holds the school record in career points (1,753). He was previously drafted in the 31st round in 2013 by the Reds, but chose to continue his amateur career.

Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph has spent 11 years in the NFL, 10 with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the New York Giants.
 

Rudolph has had a lengthy, accomplished pro career. As one of the top high school recruits in 2008, the Elder High School graduate played for Notre Dame for three years before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.

More:10 former Cincinnati high school stars who excelled in college sports in 2021-2022

With the Vikings, Rudolph appeared in two Pro Bowls and made four playoff appearances. He recorded multiple career highs in 2016, tallying 83 catches for 840 yards. In the 2019 NFC Wild Card game, he caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime for a 26-20 win over New Orleans. Over a 10-year period with Minnesota, Rudolph caught 453 passes for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns.

He spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants, but was released in March 2022 and is currently a free agent.

Kelsey Mitchell, Indiana Fever

Princeton High School and Ohio State University product Kelsey Mitchell was drafted second overall by the Indiana Fever in the 2018 WNBA Draft.
 

Success has followed Mitchell everywhere she's gone. At Princeton High School, she was the 2014 girls basketball Gatorade Player of the Year. In four years at Ohio State, she was named to four All-American teams and is second on the Division I all-time points list (3,402). 

In the 2018 WNBA draft, Mitchell was taken second overall by the Indiana Fever. She averaged 12.7 points in her rookie year, but has increased her scoring average each year.

More:How Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell developed into one of the best scorers in the WNBA

She is currently in her fifth year with the organization, is second in the league in scoring at 19.2 points per game, and is in position to make her first career All-Star Game. 

Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder

Bazley is still looking to make a name for himself after three years in the NBA, but he is well on his way.

Darius Bazley (right) has had an unorthodox road to the NBA, but is still a rising star after three years in the league.
 

The Princeton High School graduate had a winding road to the Association, including commitments to both Ohio State and Syracuse, plans to play in the NBA's G League and an internship with New Balance. At the time, Bazley was the first recruit to choose the G League over college, even though it never panned out. As a consensus five-star recruit, he was named a McDonald's All-American in 2018.

In his three years as a pro, Bazley averaged a career-high 13.7 points per game in 2020-2021 and appeared in 69 games this past season. In his young career, he also boasts a career-high of 29 points in a single game.

Kayla Harrison, Mixed Martial Arts

After winning two Olympic gold medals in judo, Kayla Harrison has pivoted to the world of mixed martial arts, competing in the Professional Fighters League.
 

The Middletown native is the second gold medal winner on this list. But her first accolade came in the form of a gold medal at the 2010 World Judo Championship.

After a bronze medal finish at the 2011 world championship, Harrison became the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo in 2012. She won a second gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Following her performance in Rio de Janeiro, Harrison was promoted to a sixth Degree Black Belt, becoming the youngest American ever to ascend to that rank.

Harrison currently competes in the lightweight division of the Professional Fighters League. She sports an undefeated record of 13 wins to zero losses, with five wins coming via knockout.

Nick Hagglund, FC Cincinnati

Nick Hagglund returned home to play for FC Cincinnati in 2019 after starring at Lakota West High School and Xavier Univeristy.
 

Similar to Hubbard, Hagglund is a hometown kid living his dream in the Queen City. 

Hagglund got his start at Lakota West before moving on to play at Xavier University, where he won Defensive Player of the Year in both the Atlantic 10 and Big East conferences, as well as being selected to multiple all-conference first teams.

In 2014, Hagglund became Xavier's highest ever pick in the MLS SuperDraft when he was taken 10th overall by Toronto FC. He played for Toronto for four years, culminating in a 2016 MLS Cup appearance.

More:What's next for soccer in Cincinnati? Maybe the MLS All-Star Game.

Hagglund returned to Cincinnati in 2019 when he was traded to the city's newest professional team. Now in his third year with the orange and blue, Hagglund has scored two goals for the club with his first coming against in-state rival Columbus Crew. 

Nick Goepper, freestyle skiing

Nick Goepper has been skiing his entire life and has three Olympic medals and six X Games medals to in his profound career.
 

Goepper was introduced to freestyle skiing at a young age, and has been competing with the best in the world ever since.

Although he was born in Fort Wayne, Goepper spent much of his young life in Lawrenceburg, honing his craft at Perfect North Slopes. As a freestyle skier specializing in slopestyle, he won a bronze medal at the Sochi games in 2014 and silver medals in 2018 (Pyeongchang) and 2022 (Beijing).

Goepper also has two bronze World Championship medals (2013, 2019) and six X Games medals (four gold, two silver).

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis

Emmy Kaiser has medaled in three Parapan American Games, leading to appearances in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Paralympic Games.
 

Kaiser's discipline is a unique one, but she has excelled ever since she got her start at six years old.

Kaiser turned pro in 2010 and has reached as high as the 11th best singles player in the world (2016) and 15th in doubles (2014). The Fort Mitchell native and St. Henry graduate has played in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Paralympics, reaching the elimination rounds in singles and doubles every time.

Kaiser has also had success at the Parapan American Games, winning two bronze medals (2015), one silver (2011) and two golds (2011, 2019).