The 2023 offseason for Ohio State women’s basketball featured a lot of talk around the departure of guard Taylor Mikesell, and rightfully so. In two seasons in scarlet and gray, Mikesell was known for scoring and hitting big shots. Leaving the NCAA for professional basketball left the Buckeyes with a scoring deficit, and so far in the 2023-24 season, it’s been guard Jacy Sheldon filling it.
Although, that’s really no surprise because Sheldon’s done this before.
Looking past a bit of recency bias with the play of Mikesell from last season, leading the Buckeyes with 17.2 points per game, the Dublin, Ohio guard’s been the most consistent scorer for the scarlet and gray over the past four years.
During the 2021-22 season, the first with Mikesell as a Buckeye, Sheldon led Ohio State with 19.7 points and 4.2 assists per game. That season included three games where Sheldon scored at least 30 points across 32 games.
This year, Sheldon is arguably better.
“She’s really focused,” said head coach Kevin McGuff following Friday’s win over Belmont University. “She’s playing really aggressively, but within the system, and it’s really producing great results for us right now.”
In the Buckeyes’ 84-55 victory, Sheldon led the Buckeyes with 31 points, her second game in a row scoring at least 30 points. It’s already the third time hitting that milestone in only 12 games of the 23-24 season.
Sheldon’s slid into a Mikesell-like role where she’s become the benefactor of teammate movement and passing.
“We played really well together and once we started swinging it to each other, kind of got things going there in the second half,” Sheldon said.
Ohio State’s best work began in the second quarter. After a slow start where Belmont erased a six-point deficit and turned it into a two-point lead, Sheldon led the way; scoring nine points of the Buckeyes’ 17 points heading into halftime.
Getting the ball to the guard was clear on Friday. Sheldon’s performance included going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, only the second time in her career that the guard hit at least five in a contest. However, that was only the half of it. Sheldon continued to do what she does best and drove into the paint.
When asked about her offense hitting a new level, Sheldon did what Sheldon does when individual attention comes her way: It’s deflected toward her teammates.
“I talk about our chemistry all the time, but it’s really working itself out,” said Sheldon. “We’re really learning how to play together.”
Sheldon’s led the Buckeyes in scoring in each of the last four games, and around her is a rotating group of teammates picking up baskets. Friday it was fellow graduate senior Celeste Taylor. Outside of the handful of dynamic defensive moments Taylor provides nightly, the Duke transfer had her best scoring game as a Buckeye with 15 points.
Against Penn State on Dec. 10, it was forward Cotie McMahon following Sheldon’s 31 points with a 27-point, eight-rebound, performance of her own. Against UCLA, despite the final outcome not going the Buckeyes’ way, guard/forward Taylor Thierry added 20 points, helping Sheldon and Ohio State almost erase a 22-point deficit in eight minutes.
The scarlet and gray are still improving, and that should be frightening for Big Ten opponents as the full remaining slate of conference games tips off on Dec. 30, in a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“Still got work to do, which I think is a good thing,” said Sheldon. “We haven’t reached our peak yet and we probably won’t for a while.”
As Ohio State ascends closer to that peak, it’ll be with Sheldon leading the way.