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Weighing the options on Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell’s WNBA Draft deadline

Today is the deadline for NCAA athletes to declare for the WNBA draft, and Mikesell has a tough decision to make.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament - Second Round-Ohio St. at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021/22 season is over for the Ohio Buckeyes, but there’s one question that remains: will guard Taylor Mikesell return?

Monday is the final day for college players to declare their interest for the WNBA Draft, which requires a tough decision for Mikesell. Either stay for a final season, due to the NCAA granting winter athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or take her shot at the professional level.

If Mikesell waives that eligibility, her college career is all but over. Once any NCAA player signs an agent, their eligibility in college ends.

Now, there’s still a chance that Mikesell could waive the eligibility and then return. An athlete can declare their draft eligibility and not sign an agent. For folks that usually follow the NBA, getting drafted and playing in the WNBA is not a sure thing.

Getting drafted isn’t the problem either. It’s the playing part. The WNBA has 12 teams, compared to 30 in the NBA. How tough is it? In 2020, only 16 of the 36 players drafted made their team’s final roster. In 2021, the first round included three players out of the 12 that didn’t end the season on a WNBA roster.

Could Mikesell shoot in the WNBA? Most definitely. If anything, it would improve. Playing in a top league, featuring its best players, leaves Mikesell more open looks than in the NCAA where defenses put more of a focus on stopping a team’s top players like Mikesell.

If the OSU guard is drafted, it’ll then be up to her performance at the combine and training camp to determine if she makes the team. Make it and Mikesell gets paid to play stateside in arguably the strongest league in the world. Don’t make it and Mikesell either stops playing or moves to Europe, like many other women’s basketball prospects out of college.

On the other hand, could a return to Ohio State for one final season help Mikesell’s draft chances? Most definitely. The Buckeyes started the season in full adjustment mode, with a young inexperienced roster. While their conference schedule saw big losses to the likes of the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers, it also included two March Madness victories.

Of their three games, one victory came against the second-best team during the SEC regular season, the LSU Tigers. Also, the Buckeyes came within three points of knocking off a No. 2 seeded Texas Longhorns.

In 2022-23, Ohio State will return starting point guard caliber talent in Madison Greene after she suffered a preseason injury. The Scarlet and Gray will also only lose two players to graduation. Adding one final season with Micksell to a maturing Buckeye team could result in an even better campaign than 2021-22.

Mikesell, a Massillon native, transferred to the Buckeyes after one season with the Oregon Ducks, and two previous seasons with the University of Maryland.

In the 2021-22 season, Mikesell received eligibility to play in the winter season three days before the Buckeyes started play. She scored 14 in her debut, and it only went up from there. In 32 games this season, the senior started all 32 contests, averaging 18.6 points per game.

Over Mikesell’s four-season collegiate career, she hit highs in not only points per game, but three-point shots made (240) and three-point percentage (48.2%). That percentage reached over 50% throughout the season too, as Mikesell was at or near the top of the best three-point shooters in the country all season; all numbers of someone that has next-level ability.

For men’s college basketball players, going into the NBA Draft comes with a higher chance of making a team; and a bigger potential payday. The decision-making process for the WNBA is a bit more difficult. Unfortunately for the athletes, next-level ability doesn’t always translate to making the next level.