Wednesday evening, 46 hours after the Ohio State women’s basketball team ended their season in the Elite Eight, the team received a shot in the arm. Local guard Jacy Sheldon announced her return to the Buckeyes for a fifth and final season, exercising a final year of playing collegiate basketball due to the extra year provided to athletes whose seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfinished business. @OhioStateWBB pic.twitter.com/fmupOsUMOS— Jacy (@JacySheldon) March 29, 2023
The return is an obvious win on the court for the Scarlet & Gray. Sheldon entered her senior season following a unanimous All-B1G First Team and All-B1G Defensive Team player and falling three points short of beating the Texas Longhorns in the 2022 Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Sheldon entered the 22-23 season playing her best basketball. The guard averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and an unimaginable 5.5 steals per game in her first five games of the season. Then, injury befell the point guard, playing once in the remaining 23 games of the regular season.
Then, Sheldon returned with a few minutes in the Big Ten Tournament and back to starting status in the NCAA Tournament. A March Madness season that saw Ohio State defeat the heavily favored UConn Huskies before falling short of a Final Four berth, losing to the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Now, with Sheldon’s return, the Buckeyes don’t only have an adaptable guard who plays multiple guard positions, but the return creates a premier destination for players in the transfer portal.
Saturday afternoon in Seattle wasn’t only a win but a recruiting video seen by 2.4 million people. Ohio State’s 73-61 victory saw the largest set of eyes on a Sweet Sixteen game in the history of the women’s basketball tournament. Sheldon’s 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists are just the beginning of a list of positives.
A player who joins the Scarlet & Gray gets to play alongside not only Sheldon but Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cotie McMahon. The forward averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and countless highlights per game in her first year. For many, the phrase “she doesn’t look like a freshman” is frequently attached to McMahon.
Against UConn, McMahon had 23 points and five assists. A quieter performance that still led the Buckeyes in scoring. Back in the Big Ten Tournament, at the beginning of March, McMahon averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Buckeyes’ surprise run to the tournament final.
Also, there’s forward/guard Taylor Thierry. The Cleveland, Ohio sophomore is in the beginning stages of a promising career. Thierry started every game this season and landed eighth in the country hitting 62.5% of her shots, third in the Big Ten. The forward brings a steadiness and efficiency that makes any second chance ball in the hands of the Buckeyes a threat for more points.
Plus there’s a strong group of veterans around Ohio State’s three stars. There’s senior forward Eboni Walker who came on strong in her first season with Ohio State and has a year of eligibility remaining. No signs of Walker leaving NCAA basketball as of publishing.
Not to mention guard Rikki Harris who plays multiple positions well on the court or forward Rebeka Mikulasikova who’s improved over the past two seasons and can hit shots from beyond the arc. Also, next season, 6-foot-4 center Faith Carson joins the fold after winning Michigan’s Division III Player of the Year award after averaging 19.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 6.2 in her final year of high school.
There’s also Madison Greene who, if healthy, plays a quiet but confident style of point guard who dishes out assists and scores consistently. Although there’s no timeline on the guard’s return after going out for the season with a knee injury on Dec. 20.
All of those positives don’t even mention that Ohio State was one game away from playing in the Final Four. Had a few more shots fallen, the Buckeyes’ season might still be going on from Dallas, Texas.
Ohio State has a gap with guard Taylor Mikesell’s career ending in the Elite Eight. It’s a tough hole to fill from a player who was effective from beyond the arc and led the Scarlet and Gray on and off the court. However, with a team like the OSU has, there’s bound to be someone who fits that role well who wants to win now.
With the Buckeyes, that’s a possibility.