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Kelsey Mitchell becomes 1st 4-time All-American in program history

The senior ended her career as the Big Ten’s leading scorer.

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Minnesota Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

“In all four years of her career, Mitchell averaged at least 22 points per game and her team made the NCAA Tournament after missing it the year prior to her arrival.”

-Colin Hass-Hill, The Lantern

Ohio State basketball guard Kelsey Mitchell became the first four-time All-American in program history as she was selected to the Associated Press second team. A first-team selection in 2016, Mitchell also made the second-team in 2015 as a freshman and 2017 as a junior. She has been a first-team All-Big Ten selection in all four seasons at Ohio State as well, and was a three-time Big Ten Player of the Year in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Along with Mitchell, Iowa forward Megan Gustafson represented the Big Ten as she also made the AP second team.

In her senior season, Mitchell averaged greater than 24 points per game, good for third-best in the country. She also became just the 13th player in NCAA history to score 3,000 career points, hitting the mark in January against Indiana. Following the Buckeyes’ loss to Central Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Mitchell officially ended her career at the No. 2 spot in all-time scoring in Division I with 3,402 points, and remains the Big Ten’s leading career scorer. Mitchell also ended her college career as one of the most prolific three-point shooters in NCAA history. She holds the all-time records for both threes made (497) and attempted (1,286).

The guard has been a leader on the team since her arrival in 2014. Starting 35 games as a freshman, Mitchell averaged 24.9 points per game. She finished her career having started all 139 games she played in, all while leading Ohio State to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. She finished her career having averaged 24.5 points per game over four seasons.

Mitchell looks to be one of the top-two prospects in this year’s WNBA Draft, along with South Carolina’s A’Ja Wilson. The draft is scheduled for April 12 in New York.

“Joe Burrow is on pace to graduate in May. If it came down to him knowing he’s not going to be Ohio State’s quarterback in 2018, he could transfer somewhere else and be eligible immediately with two years to play.”

-Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star

Ohio State’s quarterback battle has been the talk of the Big Ten offseason. With the departure of J.T. Barrett, who seemed to run the offense forever, there is a three-way competition to fill the void left by the three-time Big Ten quarterback of the year. Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell are all part of a wide-open quarterback battle as they head toward the spring game next month.

However, the way this quarterback competition plays out could have implications beyond Columbus. For example, Burrow, a redshirt junior, could graduate from Ohio State in May, enabling him to transfer to another school without sitting out a season. This idea is not a new one. Last season, following the Buckeyes’ Cotton Bowl win over USC, some talk emerged of Burrow potentially transferring. While Burrow had been the de facto backup in 2016, it was Haskins who most recently filled in for Barrett following the senior’s injury against Michigan, completing six passes for 94 yards.

Should Haskins win the starting role after spring practice, Burrow would have a much more compelling reason to transfer. One potential landing spot for the Athens native would be Nebraska--a program which currently has three scholarship quarterbacks in the locker room. First-year head coach Scott Frost, who himself was a transfer to the Huskers in the ‘90s, has said that he would ideally like five quarterbacks on scholarship. With Tanner Lee departing for the NFL, sophomore Patrick O’Brien is the only quarterback on the roster who has seen playing time.

Burrow would be an attractive candidate to move to Lincoln. A former Ohio Mr. Football, Burrow came to Ohio State as a four-star pro-style quarterback. He has spent a year under the combined powers of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, and would further benefit from the tutelage of Frost. On a personal level, his father, Jimmy, also played and coached at Nebraska.

“It’s a lot of stress. Center is every bit important as quarterback. I don’t know if they’re great players or not.”

-Urban Meyer, via Patrick Murphy, 247Sports

Heading into last season, Billy Price had huge shoes to fill as he made the shift from guard to center. Price was following in the footsteps of Pat Elflein, who had made the same jump the previous season. The move worked out well for both players, who each earned the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center at the end of their respective seasons. Both also were following up on solid performances by Corey Linsley and Jacoby Boren, who had strong careers at center for the Buckeyes in Urban Meyer’s first seasons at the helm.

Now, however, the center position does not seem as clear cut. While Price and Elflein were already well-regarded offensive linemen, there doesn’t seem to be a natural fit for center on Meyer’s roster--something which the head coach finds more troubling than his three-way battle for starting quarterback. Brady Taylor, a fifth-year senior, would seem the logical choice to fill the void left by Price, but Meyer does not appear ready to name him as the starter just yet. Taylor saw limited playing time late in games when he came in to relieve Price. Other players in contention for the center spot include Josh Myers, Matt Burrell and Josh Alabi.

“I think when you have quality players going at it, it’s no stress at all,” Meyer said of his quarterback battle. “Who is it going to be? I don’t know. But I know they work really hard and I see not two but three guys that think they should be the quarterback.”

Unfortunately for Meyer, he doesn’t know exactly what sort of players he has going out for center this season. While Price holds the record at Ohio State for consecutive starts with 55, this record also means that other players did not get much game-time experience which would have helped to inform this offseason decision.