Kelsey Mitchell has been watching the NBA draft “ever since I could remember” and each year noticed the draft prospects waiting nervously in custom suits seated at a table surrounded by family with plenty of media members watching their every move.

On Thursday, she will be the one dressed to the nines as part of a draft day spectacle at Nike’s New York headquarters. Ohio State’s leading scorer is expected to be selected as high as No. 2 overall in the WNBA draft, starting the next chapter in a decorated basketball career.

Mitchell is hopeful that she can enjoy herself and not be overwhelmed by the event, but it’s difficult not to compare this moment to the same time in past years, when she was readying herself for another round of summer school and individual workouts at Ohio State.

“When it comes to this, I’m like nervous/scared — I’m like, ‘What’s going to happen? How’s this going to go?’ — because I’m new to it,” Mitchell said. “I think the part that’s crazy is that you don’t know what could happen because you’re not playing with someone else’s money now. You’re playing with your own money, but at the end of the day it’s more businesslike.”

Of her high draft projection, Mitchell said she will believe it when her name is called on Thursday, and she isn’t fixated on numbers.

“I’m a realist,” she said.

Her emotions are similar to those of teammate Stephanie Mavunga, who was listed as an early second-round pick in ESPN’s latest mock draft. But Mavunga said she won’t worry about what’s out of her control after completing her draft prep.

The forward changed her physique ahead of her senior season and averaged 16.6 points and 11.0 rebounds. She spent the small gap between the end of Ohio State’s season and the draft preparing for a professional level in which, at 6 feet 3, she might be undersized in certain matchups.

“I’m trying to broaden my game,” Mavunga said. “I’ve been working on a lot of pull-ups, midrange shots, three-pointers and just getting to the basket, finesse moves, faders here and there, so just a lot of different things I’m trying to add to my arsenal.”

Mavunga said she will watch the draft on TV at home in Indiana with her mother, father and younger brother, Jordache.

“It'll be real chill and comfortable,” she said.

ESPN projected Linnae Harper, an intriguing prospect for teams because of her speed and rebounding abilities for a 5-8 guard, at No. 24 overall (there are 36 picks). If all three former Buckeyes are selected, it would be a first for Ohio State in a WNBA draft.

There are a lot of moving parts for each — navigating the draft and the end of the academic semester simultaneously — but they expect the learning to continue beyond Thursday night.

"That’s the scary part, too, because I’m hopping out of my comfort zone," Mitchell said. "(But) I’m grown enough to be able to handle a new environment and I think my parents raised me that way."


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