The WNBA is arguably one of the most difficult leagues to break into in the United States. With 144 spots available across 12 teams, getting drafted is one part of a long road to getting into the league and then comes the battle to stay in it. Wednesday, the Indiana Fever waived former Ohio State women’s basketball guard Taylor Mikesell, creating the first speedbump in the shooting guard’s professional career.
On April 10, 2023, the two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection heard her name called as the first pick of the second round of the draft. Mikesell landed on the same team as former Indiana Hoosier Grace Berger and the overall No. 1 pick in the draft: South Carolina Gamecock center Aliyah Boston.
Mikesell was one of 17 players vying for 12 spots on the Indiana roster. Part of camp was a pair of preseason games. The Massillon, Ohio native suited up for both games, but only played in the first of two. Even so, the first game showed the guard’s promise.
In the 81-56 Fever defeat to the Chicago Sky, Mikesell came off the bench to score five points, shoot 50% from the floor (including a three-point made) and added a rebound in 13:53 played.
Indiana’s second game didn’t feature any Mikesell minutes, which foreshadowed a potential cut from the roster with the final deadline for a completed team roster looming Thursday, May 18.
Now, Mikesell becomes a free agent. The guard didn’t sign a contract with the Fever, so there’s no waiver period to adhere to.
It was a going to be a tough road for Mikesell on an Indiana roster that featured a strong group of guards. Leading them is former Buckeye All-American Kelsey Mitchell. Also, former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Erica Wheeler, Australian national team player Kristy Wallace and the previously mentioned Berger the most likely to see consistent minutes for the Fever.
A consistent theme of anyone who’s talked about Mikesell is the guard’s work ethic and passion for the game. Normally the first player out on the court, taking shots to warm up before the team comes out to warm up, Mikesell is now an option for other WNBA teams to sign in the regular season for additional help on the offensive end of the court.
Beyond the WNBA, Mikesell’s resume in the NCAA makes the guard a likely pick for teams in Europe, where many WNBA stars also take their skills in the offseason. The European calendar runs alongside the NCAA, but adds a month before the usual NCAA start date of the beginning of November.
Around the WNBA and the Big Ten, Mikesell isn’t the only Big Ten top-15 selection in the 2023 draft to get cut. Fellow guard, and former Terrapin, Abby Meyers was waived by the Dallas Wings after going 11th to the Dallas Wings.