The Ohio State women’s basketball team is a roster full of upperclassmen. Of that group, one joined the Buckeyes back in 2019 and is now a leader. In the past two seasons, the Indianapolis area five-star recruit went from an early career injury to a consistent name for the program.
Now, with at least one season remaining, redshirt senior guard Rikki Harris is back with Ohio State for potentially one last season in scarlet and gray.
Name: Rikki Harris
Class: Redshirt Senior
High School: North Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
2022-23 Stats: 6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, .430 FG%, .236 3FG%, .590 FT%
After ending the 21-22 season in the No. 3 role for the Buckeyes, head coach Kevin McGuff had Harris back on the bench through the end of December. Playing only 27 minutes in the first two games of the year, it looked like Harris was going to come off the bench behind Madison Greene, who returned from injury at the start of the year.
Harris made her big introduction on Nov. 30 in Louisville. McGuff brought the Indiana native into the game after freshman Cotie McMahon had a tough first quarter and sat after six minutes.
McGuff used Harris in a smaller lineup, with the only forward on the court in sophomore Taylor Thierry. Harris played a key role in the Buckeyes’ 96-77 win, leading the team with 10 rebounds in the 14-point comeback. After the game, Harris wasn’t expecting to play that night, fighting a nasty cold.
The battling didn’t stop there for Harris. Less than a month later, Harris was back in a position she hadn’t played since high school. With injuries to guards Jacy Sheldon and Madison Greene, Harris stepped into the starting lineup as point guard.
Staying in the role for all but one game through the end of the Big Ten Tournament, Harris scored 8.0 points, grabbed 4.5 rebounds and added 4.3 assists per game, all above her NCAA career averages.
Before the regular season was done, Harris’ best scoring outing of the year came against the Michigan Wolverines. Not known as a consistent three-point shooter in her time as a Buckeye, Harris went off. The guard hit 4-for-5 from deep, showing the extra practice put in on long-range shooting paying off for a career high 23 points.
For the NCAA Tournament, Harris’ minutes and production on the court lessened with the return of Sheldon. The guard didn’t start any of the four March Madness contests, scoring nine points across 65 total minutes.
What to Expect
Ohio State prides itself on defense and the environment in and around the team. Harris personifies all of that.
Harris is a player who says they’ll do whatever to help the team win, and it isn’t a meritless sports cliché. From grabbing rebounds and hitting a clutch shot with a horrible cold, jumping in as point guard and grabbing seven steals and 23 points against bitter rivals or diving onto a table to get the ball back to her team.
The guard will hustle, find open teammates and put herself into every play.
In terms of scoring, Harris isn’t a lights out shooter like a Taylor Mikesell or the best player at dishing assists like Sheldon or Greene, but there won’t be a game where Harris doesn’t make a crucial shot or find someone to do the same.
Defensively, watch for Harris to grab steals and force bad passes from opponents in the press. It’ll be interesting to see how Harris is used by McGuff this season, but with experience at almost every position, don’t expect a big minutes drop.
That also means anytime there’s someone out with injury, Harris’ name is the first to slide into the starting lineup to take their place.
With guard Celeste Taylor joining the Buckeyes, and forward Taylor Thierry’s play demanding a starting position, Harris is the likeliest candidate for the Buckeyes’ sixth player. Harris will be the first to come off the bench, most of the time.
Harris’ main role will be that third guard position, but as she’s shown over the past two seasons, there’s no one place she has to fit. Until guard Madison Greene comes back from injury, Harris could come in for small spurts as point guard. Harris’ defensive ability puts her as someone who can give Taylor a break too.
There’s also the forward position. The likelihood of McMahon and Thierry being off the court at the same time is minimal, but if it does happen Harris can slide into the No. 4 role for coach McGuff.
As the sixth player, Harris will have less of a chance for an offensive impact, but the guard showed shooting improvement at times over last season. Harris hitting career highs in shooting wouldn’t be a surprise.
Early in the fourth quarter in Ohio State’s 24-point comeback against the Indiana Hoosiers, Harris showed what she’s willing to do on a play. Harris’ jump to stop an Indiana pass led to the guard falling onto the media table and smashing a laptop. The guard even apologized while getting back on the court.
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