While Jacy Sheldon led the way for the class, there were on and off the court impacts throughout the four Ohio State juniors
Last week, Land-Grant Holy Land went through the 2021/22 season for three seniors. All three made a lasting impact on the court throughout the 2021/22 season, on the way to Ohio State’s Big Ten regular-season championship.
Today, LGHL looks at Ohio State’s group of juniors. Players are listed by minutes played and their status for next season is accurate as of publishing.
To say that guard Jacy Sheldon surprised people is an understatement. For all intents and purposes, Sheldon led the Scarlet & Gray all season. The Dublin, Ohio native led the Buckeyes in points (631), points per game (19.7), assists (134) and steals (62).
What makes those statistics more impressive is the diverse way that they were earned. Sheldon started the season as a shooting guard and started the first 14 games of the season in the role. Jan. 9, 2022, then starting point guard Kateri Poole suffered an injury that took her out of the lineup for four games. Sheldon started the next game at point guard and stayed in the facilitator role throughout the rest of the season.
It was a role that Sheldon hadn’t played since high school, but you couldn’t tell on the court. Sheldon averaged 5.1 assists per game in the 18 games at the point, and her effectiveness increased immediately in the scoring column too.
That fourth game where Sheldon didn’t hit 30 points? Jan 20, 2022, when Sheldon had her first double-double of the season, assisting on 10 and scoring 24 in the Buckeyes’ first win against a ranked opponent in the 2021/22 season.
In that same game, it was appropriate that the career Buckeye also hit a personal milestone – her 1,000th point as a member of Ohio State.
Sheldon had two double-doubles all season; each came in big moments. The second was Feb. 27, when the Buckeyes ended the regular season in a trip to East Lansing, Michigan. With the B1G regular-season championship on the line, the Spartans took the lead with three minutes remaining, Sheldon scored five of her 13 points on the day and assisted on one to put the Buckeyes ahead for good, winning 61-55.
That performance was followed up by five postseason games where Sheldon continued leading the team in points, missing five minutes total across five games. In the second round, the Buckeyes played in a hostile environment, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, against Louisiana State University.
Sheldon was key in the 79-64 victory. Although the guard was two assists shy of her third double-double on the year, Sheldon still scored 23 points, grabbed three rebounds, and stole three. Sheldon and the Buckeyes shocked the home crowd in a one-sided defeat of a ranked LSU Tigers side.
Unfortunately for Sheldon the Scarlet & Gray, the season ended earlier than they hoped, losing 63-66 in the sweet sixteen to the Texas Longhorns.
Throughout the year, and in the postseason, Sheldon racked up personal recognition for her work. Sheldon was named to the B1G Honor Roll twice throughout the season, named a unanimous First Team All-B1G, the only player not in the B1G conference tournament title game to be named to the All-B1G Tournament Team and an All-B1G Academic Selection, to boot.
Sheldon returns for the 2022 season, making the Buckeyes a scary opponent. Guard Taylor Mikesell returns with Sheldon, exercising her extra year of eligibility. That makes both of Ohio State’s best shooters back in Scarlet & Gray for another run.
Starting in the paint for Ohio State was junior forward Rebeka Mikulášiková. The Slovakian center was put in a difficult position in 2021/22 – the starter. With the exit of starting forwards Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Patty to the transfer portal, it left Mikulášiková and graduate forward Tanaya Beacham as the top players at the position. Mikulášiková season was her third with the Buckeyes, but in 44 games across two seasons, she started only one. In 2021/22, Mikulášiková started all 32.
With Mikulášiková’s increased minutes came increased productivity. In 642 minutes, almost as many as she played in her first two years combined, Mikulášiková scored averaged 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
In the beginning of the season, Mikulášiková started strong, averaging 14.5 points per game until conference play picked up on Dec. 12, 2021. From there, scoring was inconsistent as the Buckeyes’ opponents got more difficult. In three games from Dec. 12 to Jan. 6, Mikulášiková scored no points in three straight, one being a 71-90 loss to the Michigan Wolverines on Dec. 31, 2021.
Like the Buckeyes team overall, Mikulášiková found her stride and improved. After the difficult, zero-point, stretch, Mikulášiková scored double figures in five of the next seven, the biggest moment falling on Jan. 31, 2022.
Against Naismith Player of the Year finalist in University of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, the Buckeyes had one of their strongest offensive performances of the conference season. A big piece of that was Mikulášiková. In the 92-88 victory, Mikulášiková went off from three, hitting five of seven from beyond the arc.
Mikulášiková was a threat from deep throughout the season. While head coach Kevin McGuff likely prefers names like Mikesell or Sheldon to take shots from deep, the extra directed at the two guards gave Mikulášiková space to throw up shots of her own. Mikulášiková hit multiple three-point shots a game in five games, even going two-for-three in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against LSU.
The third-year forward was named an All-B1G Academic Selection in 2021-22. If Mikulášiková finds consistency in the 2022/23 season, she’ll add awards on the court.
Ohio State guard Hevynne Bristow joined the Ohio State Buckeyes after playing a year at Providence. In that year at Providence, Bristow started three games, appearing in 29.
After a 20/21 season where she played 14 minutes in four appearances, it looked like Bristow had a chance to compete for a starting position. Against Bucknell University, in the season opener, Bristow started her first game in Scarlet & Gray. Bristow had six points and five rebounds but committed three turnovers.
It was Bristow’s lone start of the season, appearing in 10 more games spread across the season.
A lack of minutes didn’t mean that Bristow didn’t receive recognition for all her work. Like Sheldon, Bristow earned Academic All-B1G Honors for her role as a student-athlete.
Junior guard Madison Greene didn’t have an impact on the court, but her name came up often throughout the year. Before the start of the season, Greene was slated to go into the year starting alongside Sheldon and Mikesell. Greene entered the season after receiving an All-B1G Honorable Mention and averaging 13.5 points in the 20/21 season, where she started every game.
Then, on Nov. 10, 2021, the first day of the Buckeyes’ season, Ohio State announced that the outstanding point guard sustained a season-ending knee injury.
That injury, in hindsight, leads to a lot of “what if” questions but also shows the adversity that Greene and the Buckeyes overcame to end the regular season lifting the conference trophy.
Greene’s return next season, added onto a new freshman class and any transfers that might fall McGuff’s way, puts something on Ohio State that they didn’t have in 21/22: expectations.