Notebook: Ohio State women waiting for ruling on Oregon transfer Taylor Mikesell

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Oregon’s Taylor Mikesell is introduced before the game against USC.

INDIANAPOLIS – Taylor Mikesell announced her commitment to Ohio State with a graphic on social media punctuated by three words: “I’m coming home.”

Now, the fourth-year guard is playing the waiting game to find out when she can start playing for the Buckeyes. A Massillon (Ohio) Jackson product, Mikesell is awaiting a waiver for immediate eligibility at Ohio State after having spent two years at Maryland and last year at Oregon.

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According to coach Kevin McGuff, Mikesell might not know her status for the season until nearly the start of the season. Ohio State opens its season November 10 at home against Bucknell.

“We’re still awaiting word on that,” McGuff said Thursday at Big Ten media day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. “I don’t know (how long). It may run fairly close to when we start playing.”

An elite shooter, Mikesell was the Big Ten’s freshman of the year in 2018-19 after making a Maryland record 95 three-pointers while shooting 41.1%. She started 66 consecutive games for the Terrapins before transferring to Oregon following the 2019-20 season, where she averaged 9.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists while helping the Ducks reach the 2021 Sweet Sixteen.

She was the third guard to leave the program following the 2020-21 season, and after seeing her abilities firsthand McGuff signed her to Ohio State.

“(She) went to Oregon and it was too far and wasn’t a great fit so she wanted to come back home,” he said. “We got her back. She’s a great player and she’s been outstanding in practice. She could be a really great addition for us.”

Under McGuff, the Buckeyes finished third in scoring during Big Ten games last year, averaging 80.2 points per game despite being eighth in three-point shooting percentage (32.4%). No player who attempted at least 25 threes shot better than 38.5% from deep. After shooting 42.5% from three during her second season at Maryland, she was 39 for 117 (33.3%) at Oregon.

“I had the incredible pleasure and displeasure of coaching against her when she was at Maryland and she just killed us,” McGuff said. “She’s a really good fit in our system. We get a lot of three-point shots by virtue of the space and pace we play with, and she’s gonna have a really bright career for us.”

New assistants bring new vibes

McGuff made two additions to his coaching staff during the offseason, and he reached across rivalry lines for one of them. In May, McGuff hired Wesley Brooks, who had spent the previous four seasons as an assistant at Michigan.

“As it turned out, Wes was a great fit,” McGuff said. “We needed a little bit of a spark in recruiting and he’s got tremendous energy there. He’s well-known throughout the country and he’s got great contacts. He’s done a great job since he’s been here so far.”

In late August, Ohio State announced that Jalen Powell had joined the program as an assistant after spending the 2020-21 season at Florida A&M. Powell got her start as a graduate at Arkansas, where she earned her Master’s degree in 2019 and worked for head coach Mike Neighbors.

When McGuff was the head coach at Xavier, Neighbors was one of his assistant coaches from 2008-11.

“She’s a rising star in this game,” McGuff said of Powell. “One of the things I really wanted to add was somebody who could just really connect with our players. She’s done a great job developing relationships and has a great pulse with each kid and what’s going on with the team to make sure we’re on the right track.”

The new voices in the room have challenged the players, McGuff said, and given him some fresh perspective. Those thoughts were echoed by fifth-year guard Braxtin Miller.

“We have one (Powell) that’s young which I think is cool because she really relates so much to us on more of a personal level,” she said. “Wes is a super cool, happy, funny guy, so it’s been a different dynamic but I think it’s working out really well so far.”

“They haven’t been here that long and we’ve already gotten to know them really well, and they both bring something different,” junior guard Jacy Sheldon said. “Wes brings a lot of energy, he’s a goofy guy, he’s a great guy, but he can connect with us. JP, she’s a little younger but she can relate to us real well, which is great to have. They’ve brought a lot of positives.”