In the final edition of Land-Grant Holy Land player previews, the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball leader is the focus.
Guard Jacy Sheldon was a sought-after recruit coming out of Central Ohio, but Sheldon opted to stay close to home and reached a new level in her third season as a Buckeye. This season, Sheldon has more help, which could mean more freedom to lift the Scarlet & Gray further than they’ve been in years.
Name: Jacy Sheldon
High School: New Hartford High School (Utica, New York)
2021-22 Stats: 19.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.2 apg, .504 FG%, .366 3FG%, .864 FT%
Entering 2021-22, the expectations for the Buckeyes wasn’t particularly high. While Ohio State was placed in the top five by coaches in conference preseason polling, the conference was Maryland, Michigan and Indiana’s for the taking.
Sheldon was one of only two returning to the starting lineup, along with forward Braxtin Miller. The Scarlet & Gray lost two forwards to the transfer portal and their starting point guard Madison Greene to injury. What happened next was a season led by Sheldon, and ending with a conference title and a career season across the board for the Dublin, Ohio guard.
Playing and starting in all 32 games, Sheldon broke her own personal records across the board. She raised her scoring 2.9 points per game, reached 20 points in 16 games, and her 134 assists was more than her first two seasons combined, with Sheldon starting since she was a freshman in the 2019-20 season.
Initially with Greene’s absence, Sheldon kept her shooting guard role, but after an injury to Kateri Poole in Jan. 2022, Sheldon moved to point guard for the first time since high school and kept the spot for the second half of the year.
Sheldon twice recorded a double-double, each coming in big moments. The first came on Jan. 20, when then-unranked Ohio State side welcomed the No. 12 ranked Maryland Terrapins. Sheldon scored 24 points, adding 10 assists and four rebounds with a steal. The Buckeyes shocked the Terrapins 95-89, and in the performance Sheldon hit her 1000th point with a late free throw to put the the game firmly in Ohio State’s grasp.
The second came in the final regular season game against the Michigan State Spartans. Sheldon tallied 13 points and 10 assists in the 61-55 game that ultimately clinched the Buckeyes’ regular season co-championship with the Iowa Hawkeyes, thanks to a loss by the Michigan Wolverines as Ohio State was flying home.
Sheldon ended the season with an AP All-American Honorable Mention, being named to the First Team All-B1G Defensive Team while also being a scholar athlete. Sheldon was Academic All-B1G and an OSU Scholar-Athlete. Also, she joined Iowa’s Naismith Player of the Year finalist Caitlin Clark as the only other player in the Big Ten unanimously voted to the coaches and media First Team All-B1G.
What to Expect
The “what to expect” is loaded for Sheldon. On both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, Sheldon contributes big. In head coach Kevin McGuff’s defensive game plan, which includes going to an opponent-agitating full court press, Sheldon starts the press in the backcourt, forcing steals and turnovers.
Sheldon takes that seemingly endless energy to the frontcourt, where she can shoot from anywhere on the floor. Even with pure shooter in guard Taylor Mikesell on the roster last year, Sheldon outscored the transfer from Oregon while also upping her facilitating when moved to the point.
An area to watch for Sheldon is keeping possession for the Buckeyes. An issue for the guard last season were turnovers. Sheldon’s 100 turnovers was 43 more than anyone else on the roster.
Now, the Buckeyes were second in the conference in turnover margin, and came up ahead of opponents because of their aggressive defense, but even an extra possession or two a game could have seen the Buckeyes with more wins last year — including a three-point defeat in the Sweet Sixteen.
Sheldon will be in the starting lineup every game and will lead the team on the court. With Greene back, Sheldon has the offensive freedom, but last year showed that she’s a viable option to play point guard too.
Expect Sheldon to not play exclusively as a shooting guard. In preseason media availability, McGuff shared that Sheldon playing point guard gives the team more depth. In Monday’s exhibition victory over Notre Dame College, McGuff started Sheldon at the point and moved players around in the game to see how different groups played alongside each other.
Greene has a strong chance to be the starting point guard when the season begins, but Sheldon could slot into that role to give her rest and make opponents adjust.
Sheldon (4) and the Buckeyes beat the LSU Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The guard had 23 points, eight assists and four steals in the 79-64 Ohio State win, sending them to the Sweet Sixteen.
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