By Nick Gonzalez, OSU Athletics Communications
Being a first-year college student is tough. Between a new environment with endless people in every corner, strenuous courses, and the need for some sort of social life, there’s certainly a bit to adjust to. Couple that with being a full-time student-athlete playing women’s basketball in the competitive Big Ten conference, however, and one has a ton on their plate.
Ohio State freshman guard Jacy Sheldon is one of a whopping seven members of the women’s team that fit this criteria, but for the Dublin Coffman High School alum, she’s up for the challenge.
“As we’ve gotten in the second semester now, it’s definitely been easier to adapt to, but at first it was a little overwhelming,” Sheldon discussed when asked about such a balancing act. “It was just kind of picking and choosing your time to get your stuff done and then getting here and being able to focus in the gym.”
That clarity in how to best focus on her game has recently been paying off more consistently. The team’s 80-70 win against Penn State this past Sunday marked her sixth consecutive start for the Buckeyes, having played at least 30 minutes in four of them.
While this stretch has been important for Sheldon’s individual growth, bringing her scoring average up to 8.2 points per game, she recognizes the need for her to enhance the team’s overall play at the start of a new year. At 10-7, Ohio State has been relatively up and down over the last month but looks ahead to several critical matchups against Big Ten teams with similar records.
“The Big Ten is a really tough conference, and I think focusing on some of our things we’ve been implementing every day, focusing on getting better at rebounding, defensively and executing offensively in transition… just reiterating everything we need to get better on and continue to do that, which we have been in practice, is what we’re focusing on,” Sheldon described as the team’s approach moving forward.
“As a team, we set goals every game to reach, like for rebounding we want to be plus five, or get this many stops in a row, so that’s kind of how we keep our focus on ourselves because we need to improve as a team. I’m going to do whatever I can to help our team and continue to get in the gym all the time.”
The process of consistently being mindful of how to best contribute to a young team with explicitly high ambitions has helped Sheldon develop her mental and physical toughness. Being fully committed to learning how to work with her teammates and getting used to the fast-paced nature of the game, she finds herself inspired by the work of other notable basketball players.
“[I used to watch] Derrick Rose, back when he played for the Bulls before all his injuries,” she said. “I loved how hard offensively he played and his speed and strength, so that’s someone I’ve looked up to. [I also watched] Aaron Craft for his grit, not necessarily in his offensive game, but his defensive game – I loved watching him.”
Ultimately, even at the start of her college basketball career, Sheldon has a lot to both reflect on and strive towards. She’s learned both on and off the court – among these lessons, of course, being where the best spot to get food on campus is.
“I live right across the street from Adriatico’s, so I definitely go there the most,” she smiled.
While there’s a ton of responsibility on her shoulders, there are many benefits to being where Jacy Sheldon is at during the midseason as well.