Dyer Straight: “Once in Lifetime Player” caps HS career on future college court

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Dyer Straight

By Mike Dyer

Princeton’s Mitchell just two points shy of 2,000; Ms. Basketball “everything that is advertised”

Tom Jenkins remembers the first time he heard about Princeton’s Kelsey Mitchell was when the basketball standout was in seventh grade.

Jenkins, the director of the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report college scouting service, heard about two Cincinnati-area twins – Kelsey and Chelsea Mitchell – and both were very talented.

“One,” Jenkins said of Kelsey, “was interplanetary extraordinary.”

Dyer-ColumnHow true that statement would prove to be.

Jenkins said for some girls’ basketball fans, Kelsey could be a once in a lifetime player. He says there is no doubt she has made the sport of girls’ basketball stronger in Ohio since she entered high school four years ago.

Keep in mind Kelsey was one of the most heavily recruited players ever in any sport in the Cincinnati area. Her first scholarship offer was from the University of Southern California in the eighth grade. A ton of offers – and attention – followed.

Kelsey and Chelsea verbally committed to Ohio State this past summer and signed with the Buckeyes in November.
This weekend both sisters and the Princeton girls’ basketball team will make their first state Final Four appearance since the 1987.

For Princeton and its fans, the Vikings hope history repeats itself as Princeton won the Class AAA state title in its only state Final Four appearance.

“The atmosphere (at school this week) has been good,” Princeton coach Jill Phillips said. “Everyone seems genuinely happy for us.”

No matter what happens this weekend, Kelsey is sure to intrigue the crowd in attendance for Princeton’s 6 p.m. game against Toledo Notre Dame Academy on Friday. Toledo Notre Dame coach Travis Galloway said Mitchell is a “superstar” and others across the state have sung a similar tune.

On Thursday morning, Kelsey was named the Gatorade Ohio Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. On Wednesday night, she was named the Associated Press Ohio Ms. Basketball winner – the first from the Cincinnati area since 2009.

“Kelsey Mitchell is everything that is advertised and possesses a basketball skill set that has rarely been seen,” Mason coach Rob Matula said. “In my 26 years of coaching basketball, she is the best player I have ever coached against. But what makes her more impressive is her demeanor on the court.”

Kelsey, who was already named a McDonald’s All American in January and will play in that all-star game in early April in Chicago, takes everything in stride during media interviews.

Kelsey smiled and then playfully shooed away some of her classmates during a media interview Wednesday night.
Two of her classmates wanted a shout out on social media. They know the Princeton High School standout carries media attention anywhere she goes near a basketball court and off it.

That spotlight for the senior guard is certainly extreme this week for the future Buckeye. She says she is looking forward to playing on her future home court. She told The Enquirer she is having fun preparing for Friday night’s state semifinal because, as she said, this experience is once in a lifetime for her high school career.

That’s what makes Kelsey so unique, says Phillips.

With Mitchell averaging about 42 points the past three games, Phillips said the timing of the Ms. Basketball Award is definitely appropriate. Kelsey scored a Nutter Center-record 50 points against Kettering Fairmont in the regional semifinal March 5.

Mitchell has scored 731 points this season according to the Princeton athletic department.

Mitchell enters Friday’s game just two points shy of 2,000 for her career and the Princeton athletic department hopes to have that milestone announced with her first field goal on Friday night.

What a proper venue for that feat.

Mike Dyer is the high school sports editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com. Follow his Recruiting Trail blog at Cincinnati.com/preps

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