The 2022 WNBA regular season is nearing its end. With only six gamedays left in the season, the top few teams are competing for homecourt advantage, while five teams fight for the final two open playoff spots.
It’s the best time of the year for a WNBA fan, with the college basketball season happening soon after the league’s culmination in September. For Ohio State Buckeyes fans watching, an already tough season for a Scarlet & Gray standout got worse, but there are bright spots to highlight as the WNBA Playoffs creep onto the calendar.
Kelsey Mitchell’s year of bad luck with the Indiana Fever just got worse. On July 29, the former Buckeye All-American guard played her lowest minutes of the season (24:57) in a 21-point defeat to the Las Vegas Aces. The result wasn’t a shock, looking back at the Fever’s season, but Mitchell contributed still, scoring 12 points with four assists.
On July 30, Indiana announced that Mitchell suffered a plantar fascia tear in her left foot, ending her 2022 WNBA season. That didn’t mean Mitchell was done practicing.
A moment caught on camera shows everything about Mitchell. Still traveling with the team, injured, and working on passing. Mitchell ended with five games remaining in a career season. Mitchell upped her previous WNBA high 17.9 points with an 18.4 points per game performance and increasing her assists per game in a year from 2.8 to 4.2.
In recent months, Land Grant Holy Land chronicled why Mitchell should have been a WNBA All-Star and lamented when it didn’t come to fruition, but now it’s an unfair ending to a player who’s worked herself up to the third-highest Fever point scorer at only 26 years old.
There’s an argument for Mitchell being on a team that’s underperforming as a reason for not receiving a piece of the spotlight — an argument she’s made herself. That’s a piece, but also losing on a team like Indiana, who doesn’t get the attention of a Los Angeles Sparks or New York Liberty (who are also both sitting outside of a playoff spot) has a part to play.
Regardless, Mitchell returns to the Fever next season, still being under contract. Mitchell is the center of the team’s rebuild as they look to make an Atlanta Dream-esque improvement in the offseason, with Atlanta in a playoff spot with 14 wins after winning just eight in all of 2021.
The other Buckeye in the league, Seattle Storm forward Jantel Lavender, played less than 10 minutes in two of the three WNBA games since the last WNBA Report. Center Tina Charles pushed every big down the depth chart, and after Seattle relied on Lavender’s minutes early in the season as players returned and battled back against COVID-19, the former Buckeye’s providing a veteran presence mainly on the bench.
On Sunday, when the Storm had the final regular season home game for Sue Bird in Seattle, Lavender didn’t see any time on the court against the Las Vegas Aces, who ruined the regular season going away party in an 89-81 Vegas win.
Although not in the WNBA, 2021-22 Ohio State forward Tanaya Beacham’s been part of the WNBA Report as a bonus player to watch, all the way down in Australia. On June 21, LGHL shared Beacham’s absence from game reports for Australia’s National Basketball League. The Sunshine Coast Phoenix, where Beacham was starting and excelling, no longer featured the Northeast Ohio native.
On Aug. 3, Ohio State announced that Beacham signed with Turkish side Diba Spor Kulübü. The Turkish league plays parallel to the NCAA calendar, going from Fall 2022 to Spring 2023.
Information about the team is limited, likely placing the squad in a lower professional division. Turkey is a familiar landing spot for WNBA players in the offseason, with many taking their abilities to the top division of Turkey’s basketball structure.