The WNBA Buckeye Report is taking a bit of a different focus for Week Five. Instead of focusing solely on the performances of the week, it’s a great time to talk about the WNBA All-Star Game. On July 10, the biggest names in the league descend on Chicago, Illinois for the 2022 All-Star Game. Fans, media, players, and coaches will determine who makes the annual midseason exhibition, and one name who’s never made the game is former Ohio State Buckeye, Kelsey Mitchell.
Mitchell is a former Ohio State All-American who’s played five seasons in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever. Each week of the season, Land-Grant Holy Land brings you updates from Mitchell and former Buckeye Jantel Lavender’s performances, but today it’s time to make the case to vote for Mitchell.
In 2022, Mitchell is building the strongest season of her career. Comparing this season to her previous four, Mitchell is averaging almost a point more per game with 18.8 and over an assist more per game with 3.9. Averaging more points and assists grabs more attention when considering the state of the Fever.
Indiana basically wiped their roster entering the 2022 season. The Fever’s 2022 WNBA Draft featured five picks in the first two rounds, and all five currently play. Of the five, two start in former Baylor forwards Queen Egbo and NaLyssa Smith. For the uninitiated, that’s crazy. Less than half of the college players selected in the WNBA draft even make a team, let alone start. Lexie Hull, Emily Engstler and Destanni Henderson rounded out the five, and each play substantial minutes.
It’s in this environment where Mitchell is averaging more assists than she’s ever averaged in the WNBA. Mitchell sits eighth on the league leaders in assists.
When it comes to points, Mitchell leads the league with 300 overall — 46 more than Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum in second place. The shots are all over the court too. Mitchell has made 37 three-pointers, and she’ll also charge through the lane and attack the basket.
The final reason that Mitchell deserves to make the All-Star game is the commitment to the Fever. Mitchell signed a multi-year deal with Indiana on March 17, 2021. A contract signed with a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since drafting Mitchell and won only six games in two of her five seasons in Indiana. Mitchell hasn’t abandoned the Fever through coaching changes, roster overhauls or poor team performances on the court. Instead, the former Buckeye has improved her game and become a veteran leader.
On June 11, the WNBA released the first numbers for All-Star voting, and Mitchell is 21st on the list. It’s a tough mountain to climb, but not impossible. Fan voting accounts for 50% of how the 10 starters are selected, with voting ending at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, June 20. Media and player voting accounts for the remaining 50%.
Fans can vote once a day on the WNBA app or WNBA.com. Also, there’s a Twitter option that gives fans 10 additional votes a day (but not for the same player more than once). Any tweet featuring #WNBAAllStar and either the Twitter handle or #FirstNameLastName of the player earns another vote. To make voting even more impactful, votes made on June 18 count twice.
If Mitchell doesn’t make a big jump in fan voting, it’ll go down to the final 12 reserve spots, as chosen by WNBA coaches. So, if the fans don’t right a wrong of leaving Mitchell out of the All-Star game, a coach can come in and add the Scarlet & Gray star.
On the court in Week 5, Mitchell’s Fever lost two contests but broke a five-game losing streak on Sunday. In Minnesota, against the Lynx, Mitchell scored 15 points and registered four assists on the way to an 84-80 victory.