Mike Dyer currently covers prep sports for the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com. Today JJHuddle.com is proud to announce he covers preps for us as well now. Today we introduce a new weekly column by Dyer that will appear every Thursday. The topic? Anything high school related. The writer? One of Ohio’s best at covering preps. Today we welcome Mike to the line up.
By Mike Dyer
“People look at you the wrong way…but that’s people. So we will let people be people.”
Kelsey Mitchell admits she is a criminal science junkie.
The Cincinnati Princeton basketball standout enjoys watching shows like “CSI,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Law and Order” whenever she can and would like to possibly study forensics in college.
Good luck to the 22-plus coaches whom have the task of trying to solve how to defend the Ohio State commit this winter.
“I think a lot of opposing coaches are ready for her to graduate,” says Tom Jenkins, director of the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report, a renowned college scouting service.
Jenkins, who has been operating his service for 15 years, said Mitchell is one of the top five players he’s seen in the Buckeye State over the course of that decade-and-a-half.
There’s also close to a dozen YouTube videos with highlights of Mitchell’s game on display during AAU competition. Her first scholarship offer came in seventh grade from the University of Southern California.
Despite all the attention, Mitchell would prefer to deflect attention and focus to her teammates. She is aware of the rankings but not one to dwell on them.
“I wish the national stuff didn’t exist,” Mitchell said in late July after her verbal commitment to the Buckeyes. “I just like playing basketball and being around friends and family…I am a very chill person.”
Kelsey knows perceptions about the number of offers and national rankings can lead to false judgments from peers and others. Her work ethic and production the past three years speaks volumes about the amount of time she’s invested into the game.
“People look at you the wrong way,” Kelsey said of the attention. “They think you take life for granted…they think that you’ve got it made. But that’s people – so we will let people be people.”
Being the daughter of a coach has helped Mitchell succeed with the proper perspective.
Today Mitchell and her sister, 5-foot-10 forward Chelsea Mitchell, make their college commitments official when both are expected to sign with the Buckeyes and new coach Kevin McGuff. Princeton has scheduled at 2:30 p.m. signing ceremony.
The Mitchell twins will join their father, former Cincinnati Taft boys’ basketball coach Mark Mitchell, in Columbus for the 2014-15 season. Mark accepted an assistant position on McGuff’s staff May 31.
Kelsey says she is a fan of McGuff and mentioned a goal of wearing Scarlet and Gray in the national championship one day.
While the completed recruiting process is a relief, Mitchell understands the immediate focus is on the floor where the Vikings have toughened their regular-season schedule in the hopes of breaking through to state.
Princeton has been a Division I regional semifinalist the past four years. According to coach Jill Phillips, the squad is hungry to get past Wright State’s Nutter Center and make the trip to Columbus.
Princeton opens the season Nov. 23 at Reynoldsburg. Tip is 7 p.m.
“If you look at our schedule we are not shying away from anybody,” Phillips said. “I don’t care what our record is come postseason time – we are preparing for the postseason.”
Despite missing 15 games due to injury last year, Mitchell was Associated Press Division I first-team all-state and the Southwest District player of the year as a junior. She averaged 23.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals for the Vikings (19-8).
Mitchell has improved on her non-shooting right hand and her leadership qualities will undoubtedly bolster Princeton, which opens the season on the road the first three games – at Reynoldsburg Nov. 23, at Centerville Nov. 30 and at Oak Hills Dec. 4. A showdown with Kettering Fairmont awaits Dec. 9. The Vikings are also scheduled to play in the Classic in the Country in Berlin on Jan. 18.
Phillips notices a greater maturity level in Kelsey this preseason and says she is learning to trust her teammates more often.
“With her caliber of play she’s not only the best kid on the court – her IQ is that much better than everybody that is on the court,” Phillips said.
No doubt wherever Mitchell and Princeton travel this season, interested observers will follow to witness one of the nation’s top players who is a likely candidate for the McDonald’s All-American Game next spring.
Kelsey begins the season with 1,267 career points – just 212 away from the school career mark.
“If she hadn’t gotten hurt last year she would’ve broken the school scoring record,” Phillips said. “Those 15 games (missed) last year – just for her own personal statistical things – are huge.
“There’s no telling how many records she would have broken.”