It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it’s usually something special. Back in 2016, Joey Bosa and Joshua Perry were drafted by the same NFL team, and now in 2018, Kelsey Mitchell and Stephanie Mavunga were both picked by the Indiana Fever in Thursday’s 2018 WNBA Draft.
Being able to make the transition to the next level, but still have someone you know by your side, is bound to make the move a bit easier. You have a built in roommate, someone who already knows your tendencies on the court, and an added layer of support during this life-changing process.
Mitchell was the Fever’s first-round pick, and the No. 2 overall prospect drafted, to the surprise of no one. It was pretty clear that South Carolina’s A’Ja Jackson would go first overall, but Mitchell was right behind her — a scoring machine who could add value to any team’s offense. When the first Buckeye was picked, Mavunga actually tweeted her support, welcoming Mitchell to her hometown — little did she know, she would be next.
Exactly one round later, the Indiana Fever added another Buckeye to their roster, and named Mavunga as their pick. Dubbed a double-double monster, Mavunga and Mitchell put on a clinic during the 2018 Big Ten Tournament, not only winning the overall title, but walking away with individual honors and First-Team designations.
Now, as they make the move to the WNBA, the duo that led the Buckeyes to a 28-7 season and a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, will continue their offensive assault at the professional level.
Mitchell will go down as one of the best collegiate players of all time (male or female), claiming 3,402 career points and having made more three pointers (497) than any other female in NCAA history. She finished her senior campaign with her fourth All-America honor — Ohio State’s first-ever player to do so — and took home the Dawn Staley Award, an honor given to the country’s top guard.
If record-setting players were what the Fever were after, they got it in spades between Mitchell and Mavunga. Mavunga finished her senior season averaging 16.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, making her the third Buckeye ever to average a double-double for an entire season -- better yet, this was her second season in a row averaging the feat. She may not have put up the type of points Mitchell has, but Mavunga is one of seven players to put up more than 1,700 points, 1,200 rebounds and 300 blocks in a career, and she also set an OSU single-season record with 385 rebounds in 2018.
Between Mitchel and Mavunga, they will give the Indiana Fever a chance to bounce back from their 9-25 record last season, in which they had the second worst offense in the league.
There are a handful of reasons that these picks were special. For the Ohio State women’s basketball program, it marked the first time in history that two players were picked in the same draft class, with Mitchell’s No. 2 overall pick tying for the highest Buckeye taken. For Mavunga, the Brownsburg, Ind. native will be playing a mere 20 minutes from where she grew up, and will also join her sister-in-law, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, on the Fever roster.
If chemistry alone were enough to win championships, I’d go ahead and bet all my money on the Fever making a big postseason push at the end of the 2018-19 season.