Follow Ohio State women’s basketball for even a day or two this season, and a name that pops up more often than not is guard Taylor Mikesell. The guard’s name surfaces any time perimeter shooting is mentioned on broadcasts, in articles or media availability. However, Mikesell isn’t on the team and hasn’t been since the end of the Buckeyes’ NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight. While the guard’s presence is missed, a name on the roster who’s showing signs of a bright deep shooting future is guard Emma Shumate.
The statistics speak volumes for Mikesell. The guard made 454 shots from deep in her five-season NCAA career, good for sixth best all-time, four of those years in the Big Ten earning a conference second best record of 415 made threes.
Shumate is on the other side of her collegiate career, playing in her redshirt sophomore season. The Central Ohioan joined Ohio State following a freshman year with the West Virginia Mountaineers, not playing in a game and transferring back to Columbus last season. Even when the guard wasn’t playing many minutes, or hitting shots efficiently, the word was out there that Shumate was someone to watch from deep.
While the guard hit multiple threes in a game twice in 31 appearances, head coach Kevin McGuff said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Shumate hit seven in a game at some point. That moment never came, hitting two as her game high for the season and going 23.1% from beyond the three-point line on an average of 1.7 shots taken per game.
This season, something’s different.
Against Cornell Big Red on Sunday, the lopsided score allowed Shumate more time on the court. The guard went 3-for-5 from deep, and after the game, coach McGuff was asked if this is the Shumate the Buckeyes want on offense.
“Yeah, definitely, and we need that,” said McGuff. “We lost one of the best three-point shooters we’ve ever had here, Taylor Mikesell, and we’re not going to make up with that with one person, but we need multiple people to step up, and Emma being one of them.”
Other people have stepped up this season. Guard Jacy Sheldon leads the team from beyond the arc, making two per game and averaging 19.4 points. Shumate though has been an intriguing prospect for more minutes because she’s right behind Sheldon from deep.
Shumate already has three games this year where she’s hit at least two three-point shots — in only five appearances. Plus, two of those three had Shumate reaching a new career high for made threes in a game with three.
So, what’s helped the guard improve? Ask her teammates and its clear.
“Shooting is a mental thing and she kind of started off rough just in practice,” said guard Celeste Taylor about the start to Shumate’s season. “But I mean, just her consistency to get in the gym and shoot the ball. Everybody, all the teammates, all of us are constantly telling her, ‘if you’re open, shoot it.’”
That’s what’s happening too. Against Oklahoma State, the guard went 2-for-6 from deep. In a low scoring contest, they made a difference. So much so that the coaching staff awarded Shumate her first dub chain as a Buckeye, an honor given to one player after each Ohio State victory.
Moments like that dub chain, and the follow-up 3-for-5 shooting performance against Cornell, shows that Shumate is getting closer to coming off the bench earlier. Also, in times when offense is sorely needed. Shumate’s Buckeye teammates’ support is helping her remember the skills that are already there, and Ohio State is benefiting.
“We have faith that you’re going to hit it, because we see the work that she puts in and we’ve seen her hit shots,” said Taylor. “I’m really happy for her and proud of her.”