Ohio State junior guard Kelsey Mitchell is already one of the best players in women’s college basketball. But even she has room to grow.
OSU coach Kevin McGuff pushed Mitchell to enroll in a leadership course this semester. Assuming a leadership role is new to the Cincinnati, Ohio, native.
“I’m not one of those people that likes to tell people what to do, but coach McGuff has put me in that role,” Mitchell said. “I think that class has helped me become more vocal. I’m a little bit more outgoing.”
Mitchell said she now has made it her goal to become more of a leader for the Buckeyes. McGuff has already seen improvements.
“She’s talking more, she’s more engaged,” McGuff said. “She’s obviously a great kid, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around, and she’s a fierce competitor. But she’s also got a really good feel for the game, and I think that you see her sharing that more with her teammates.”
Out of Princeton High School near Cincinnati, Mitchell was a consensus five-star prospect and was considered by some as the No. 1 overall prospect in her class. She was the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio and was a finalist for the Naismith Girls’ High School Player of the Year award.
Mitchell immediately found success at OSU. She was the unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year after becoming the first-ever freshman to lead the country in scoring at 24.9 points per game. Her 873 total points on the year set a school and Big Ten record, and she set NCAA records for most three-pointers in a season (127) and most consecutive games with a three-pointer (35).
The guard didn’t slow down in her sophomore season. She broke her own school record for points in a season with 889 and scored the most points in a single game in OSU history with a 48-point performance against Michigan State on Feb. 27. She was a consensus All-American and finalist for several national awards, including Naismith Player of the Year.
Mitchell now sits at 1,762 career points. She’s on pace to chase down former OSU forward Jantel Lavender (2,818 points) for the all-time school scoring record. With 253 made three-point field goals, Mitchell needs just 18 to surpass former guard Caity Matter for the OSU record.
Mitchell’s accomplishments in her two years at OSU have led McGuff to believe that she is the best player he has ever coached.
“She’s really special,” McGuff said. “She can really, really play and we’re really fortunate to have her here.”
OSU junior guard Alexa Hart also believes Mitchell is a fantastic teammate, and has incredible basketball ability. For Hart, it’s the dedication that Mitchell brings to the game that puts her above the rest.
“She comes in the gym when no one else is in the gym and just works hard,” Hart said. “She comes in any time of the day, whenever she can, and works out.”
Mitchell is on her way to becoming one of best guards ever to come out of Ohio State, but that’s not something she thinks about too much.
“I’m not really into that. I just come to the court, play and go to school,” Mitchell said. “There are so many great players that came through Ohio State, so to even be a part of that conversation is something that I’m really, really grateful for.”