When Kelsey Mitchell became the fifth player in Big Ten history to surpass 300 career three-pointers in late December, she said she had no idea of the milestone.
After a win last month over Nebraska, the junior lamented a poor shooting performance when asked about her rise to No. 3 on Ohio State’s career scoring list.
It was fitting, then, that her reaction to being named Big Ten player of the year for the second time in three years was surprise.
“It’s one of those things I’m really grateful for it and really happy to achieve something where I didn’t think I honestly would have, considering how I think my year went compared to everybody else’s perspective,” Mitchell said. “When I got the call … I was really, really shocked and I’m happy I was able to overcome some obstacles over the course of the year. I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”
The award comes two years after she was named co-player of the year with Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B.
It comes a week after she scored 31 points to lead Ohio State over then-No. 2 Maryland, and 30 games into a season in which she has averaged 23.4 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds.
Mitchell also was unanimously named first team all-Big Ten. She has been an all-Big Ten first-team selection in each of her three seasons.
Mitchell credited her teammates for what she said is so far a “great year” for No. 9 Ohio State (25-5, 15-1 Big Ten).
On Monday, many of those teammates were honored along with Mitchell.
Redshirt junior forward Stephanie Mavunga (11.8 points, 11.3 rebounds), who has missed the last four games because of a right foot injury, and senior forward Shayla Cooper (10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds) were named second-team all-Big Ten.
Redshirt junior guard Linnae Harper (8.2 points, 4.9 rebounds) was named sixth player of the year, and forward Tori McCoy (7.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 63.1 percent shooting) was named to the all-freshman team.
Redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun (10.1 points, 3.6 rebounds) earned honorable mention all-conference.
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico, who guided the Wolverines to a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament, was named the coach of the year. Maryland guard Destiny Slocum earned freshman of the year honors, and Northwestern’s Ashley Deary, who this season broke the Big Ten’s career steals record, was selected as defensive player of the year.
The Buckeyes, who have won 11 straight games, will face the Northwestern-Iowa winner at noon Friday in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal in Indianapolis.
Reflecting on her season, Mitchell took the bad with the good. She said her mental toughness has improved but added she still has to grow as a point guard.
“You definitely want to be able to look at it and face the reality of it,” Mitchell said of her latest award. “You also want to look at it like you can get better.”