3-Time A-A Mitchell Staying Put

By Jeff Rapp, April 2nd, 2017

Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell has earned All-America honors for the third-straight season, but that may have not been enough consolation for the Buckeyes’ Sweet 16 exit from the NCAA Tournament.

Next season, Mitchell could be a very rare four-year All-American, but that isn’t what is motivating her at the moment.

The hyper-driving/deep-shooting/high-scoring OSU guard is eyeing a monster senior season that hopefully won’t end until she has taken her team all the way to downtown Columbus – site of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

But before that attempted run and an assault on the school record book, Mitchell has a little time to soak in the well-deserved accolades that are following her impressive junior season.

In recent days, Mitchell was named a first-team All-American by the WBCA and the USBWA as well as College Sports Madness and a second-teamer by ESPNW and the Associated Press. She was also a finalist for the Wade Trophy, which is presented by the WBCA to the women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

For the second-straight season, Mitchell has been invited to the College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles as she is a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award which also honors the country’s best player. The awards show is set for April 7 (8 p.m. Eastern, ESPN).

Mitchell was named the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second time in her career this season after leading the conference in scoring. She made 115 three-point field goals and also led the team with 137 assists and 43 steals.

The talented lefty also became the fastest player in NCAA history to record 2,000 career points and is currently third in school history and fifth in Big Ten history with 2,553 career points. Her 368 career three-pointers are not only a school record but are also the most of any player in Big Ten history.

A Cincinnati native, Mitchell helped lead the Buckeyes to a 28-7 season and co-Big Ten regular-season championship. OSU lost to Purdue in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and gave up 99 points in a season-ending loss to top-seed Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Coach Kevin McGuff and Mitchell also pointed the way to a Sweet 16 appearance last year, meaning the recent return marks the program’s first consecutive Sweet 16 showings since the 1988 and ’89.

For the season, Mitchell amassed 791 points and averaged 22.6 per outing. She led the team in scoring in 30 of 35 games throughout the 2016-17 campaign. She connected on 43.7 percent of her field-goal attempts, 36.9 from long range and was a healthy 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.

Despite playing at her normal frenetic pace and averaging 34.1 minutes of court time, Mitchell fouled out of just one game all season.

With McGuff constantly calling for an uptempo attack and Mitchell able to finish plays, the Buckeyes racked up 85.7 ppg this past season to rank fourth in the country. OSU’s 2,999 points set a new team record.

After the loss to ND, Mitchell was mum about her future, leaving the door open to possibly explore early entrance into the WNBA draft. She would have been able to do that since she would reach 22 years of age during her rookie season. Michigan State’s Aerial Powers, for example, just declared early for the draft. Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd seemed to start the debate in 2015 when she left early and became the first pick of the draft.

Still, a lot of WNBA rookies don’t even earn six-figure salaries and most earn $50,000 to $80,000 annually.

On March 29, Mitchell broke her silence – and confirmed her decision — with the following statement:

“Getting a degree from The Ohio State University was one of my top goals when coming to college and I look forward to completing my degree next spring. My teammates and I also have a number of goals we have yet to accomplish on the court. One of those goals is to play in the Final Four and we have a tremendous opportunity to do that next year here in Columbus. I’m excited to get back in the gym with my teammates and continue to work to get better.”