The Ohio State Buckeyes (2-1) have usually been one of many stronger groups within the Large Ten since Kevin McGuff was employed as head coach in 2013. They’re coming off their deepest NCAA Match run within the McGuff period: this system’s first Elite Eight look since 1987.
Expectations are excessive for the Buckeyes coming into the 2023-24 season, and a wholesome Jacy Sheldon is a significant motive why. Sheldon, a 5-foot-10 guard from Dublin, OH, selected to return to Ohio State for a fifth season as a graduate season, declaring “unfinished business” after shedding a big chunk of her senior season to a decrease leg damage.
For the Buckeyes, this can be a case of the wealthy getting richer. Ohio State added final 12 months’s ACC Defensive Participant of the 12 months Celeste Taylor within the switch portal, and assuming returning gamers like Cotie McMahon and Taylor Thierry proceed their respective development, the Buckeyes could have a roster filled with high-caliber athletes and defensive playmakers able to wreaking havoc on the court docket.
It’s going to be Sheldon who in the end determines how far the Buckeyes go, although. With next-level defensive instincts and a downhill offensive sport rivaled by few different guards within the nation, Sheldon is a participant who can carry her crew on each ends of the ground and—if she’s wholesome—can be of nice curiosity to WNBA scouts.
Honors and statistics
Ranked because the No. 42 recruit within the class of 2019 by ESPN’s HoopGurlz, Sheldon was a part-time starter (24 of 33 video games) as a freshman at Ohio State. Her sophomore season is when she actually broke out; Sheldon led the Buckeyes in scoring (16.7 factors per sport) whereas additionally contributing 2.6 assists and a team-high 1.8 steals per sport, incomes All Large-Ten Second Group honors in 2021.
Sheldon continued her ascent as a junior, main the Buckeyes in factors (19.7), assists (4.2) and steals per sport (1.9). It was throughout Sheldon’s junior season that she amassed most of her honors, incomes alternatives to the All-Large Ten First Group and All-Defensive Group, in addition to being named an Honorable Point out All-American by the Related Press.
Coming into her graduate season, Sheldon was named to preseason watch lists for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, together with the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is given nationally to the nation’s high level guard. She was additionally named to the preseason All-Big Ten Team by convention coaches and media.
Sheldon personifies Ohio State’s uptempo model of play
It’s no secret how Ohio State needs to play: quick and aggressive, with an emphasis on forcing turnovers utilizing a full-court press. Prior to now three seasons, the Buckeyes have ranked No. 15, No. 26 and No. 14 within the nation in possessions per 40 minutes (Her Hoop Stats), and final season ranked No. 11 in steal price at 12.9 p.c.
Sheldon is true at residence taking part in this sort of basketball, and it’s one thing each she and McGuff identified when she was first recruited again in 2019.
Taking part in a press-heavy defensive scheme can actually inflate gamers’ steal numbers, however in Sheldon’s case, she’s somebody who raises the general ceiling of what her crew needs to do. With top-notch defensive instincts and a motor that’s by no means in query, Sheldon is likely one of the Large Ten’s premier off-ball defensive playmakers, contributing tremendously to an Ohio State offense that recorded 21.9 p.c of its possessions in transition final season (Synergy Sports activities). Throughout Sheldon’s prolonged absence, McGuff remarked that the Buckeyes can merely play quicker when she’s out there, particularly mentioning transition baskets as one thing that Sheldon makes a speciality of.
Sheldon being simply as adept within the halfcourt, nonetheless, is what actually units her aside. Explosive off the dribble and within the paint, Sheldon is in fixed assault mode, utilizing quite a lot of finishes to get her shot off in opposition to larger defenders and draw fouls. Although she was clearly hampered by her damage when she did play final season, 39 p.c of Sheldon’s halfcourt shot makes an attempt got here on the rim, up from the 35.9 p.c rim try price she recorded as a junior. Sheldon transformed on 61.2 p.c of these makes an attempt in 2021-22.
Sheldon’s offensive repertoire extends far past the painted space, too. She will create area and shoot off the dribble with little effort—as a junior, 56.6 p.c of Sheldon’s jumpshots got here off the dribble, and she or he ranked within the 84th percentile in off-dribble jumpshot effectivity (Synergy Sports activities)—and she or he has a fast sufficient launch to be thought-about a risk transferring with out the basketball, too. Sheldon knocked down no less than 34 p.c of her 3-point makes an attempt in every of her first three wholesome seasons as a Buckeye, a lot of which had been both off the dribble or off relocation. Her exterior taking pictures is an ideal complement to her wonderful downhill scoring potential, as defenses can’t play Sheldon for only one particular transfer or shot sort.
If this seems like a perfect skillset for an expert guard to have, that’s as a result of it’s. ESPN’s Michael Voepel has Sheldon being picked by the Connecticut Solar at No. 10 general in his most up-to-date WNBA mock draft, whereas acknowledging that her returning to her pre-injury type could have quite a bit to do with the place she’s drafted.
Right here’s one other issue: the choices of different guards within the class. If Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers resolve to remain at school (a choice that doesn’t must be made for fairly a while), that can solely enhance Sheldon’s luster. There are already treasured few guards within the nation who can do what she will, and she or he actually has an opportunity to face out from different gamers in her class subsequent spring.
Watch her play
Sheldon and the Buckeyes can be collaborating within the Pink Flamingo Championship early subsequent week, taking over the East Carolina Pirates on Monday, Nov. 20 after which the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Each video games can be streamed stay by way of FloHoops.
In December, Ohio State will play on nationwide TV a number of instances. The Buckeyes will face the Tennessee Woman Vols (presently ranked No. 15 within the nation) on Sunday, Dec. 3 (ESPN) in a rematch of final 12 months’s season opener, which Ohio State received 87-75. Later, the Buckeyes will host the UCLA Bruins (ranked No. 3) on Dec. 18 (FS1), pitting Sheldon and Ohio State’s guards in opposition to a tricky and versatile backcourt that includes Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice.
All statistics and crew information for the 2023-24 NCAA season are present by way of Nov. 18, 2023.