COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s basketball team opened practice this week in preparation for what will undoubtedly prove to be an interesting season, not just in Columbus, but throughout the country. Like everything in the past eight months, there is a bit of uncertainty for the Buckeyes as they head into the season. But there is also a great deal of certainty, which should have fans excited.
The uncertainty comes in replacing the minutes and production vacated by four transfers from last season. The certainty comes in the return of all five starters who gelled over the final two months of last season and had the team playing its best basketball.
Junior Dorka Juhasz will again be the team’s leader on the court as she became the first Buckeye to lead the team in both points and rebounds in each of her first two seasons. Juhasz is the most versatile forward in the Big Ten Conference. Her inside presence is complimented by her ability to knock down shots on the perimeter. That inside-outside threat is what made her a first team all-conference selection last season and what has her in the discussion for the best player in the league.
Senior Braxtin Miller will again be the team’s leader both on and off the court. She brought a veteran presence to a young team last year and that manifested itself as the year went along. The Dayton, Ohio, native got more comfortable in facilitating the offense towards the end of last season and will likely be looked upon to return to her 13-point per game average that she had over her first two seasons at Oklahoma State.
Junior forward Aaliyah Patty has not missed a game in her first two seasons and has developed into a strong low post threat. She has a long 6-3 frame and is disruptive on the defensive end, as she had 33 blocks last season.
Sophomore guards Jacy Sheldon and Madison Greene, who round out the starting group, were very impressive in their first season. Sheldon, who by many accounts had a great offseason, is perhaps the team’s purest shooter. She made 44 three pointers last year and led the Big Ten in points in transition. She is a quick guard who is poised for a breakout season. Greene started the final 21 games at point guard last year and by season’s end, looked every bit the part of an All-Big Ten player. She is extremely poised and run the offense but can also take over a game.
Sophomore forward Rebeka Mikulasikova had a great first year in the states and was playing well before an ankle injury halted her season just prior to the start of the Big Ten Tournament. The Slovakia native led the team in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point percentage. She seems to be a perfect fit for head coach Kevin McGuff’s system as she brings a strong inside presence but is also comfortable on the perimeter.
After those six, McGuff will be looking to a group of freshmen to fill the void left by transfers Janai Crooms, Kiersten Bell, Aixa Wone Aranaz and Kae Satterfield. The first name that jumps out of the group is freshman guard Kateri Poole. The Bronx, N.Y., native was ranked No. 24 in the 2020 class according to ESPN and was named Miss New York by the state’s coaches association. She averaged 18 points, six rebounds and five assists per game at South Shore High School last season and even posted a rare quadruple-double. She will likely make an immediate impact.
Redshirt-freshman guard Rikki Harris has been itching to get on the court as injuries slowed her first season. She was an all-state guard at North Central High School in Indiana and averaged better than 15 points per game over her final two seasons. Her and Poole will be joined in the backcourt by freshman Anyssa Jones, who was having a great senior year at nearby Westerville South before an ankle injury cut her season short. She has fully recovered and provides a left-handed look for the Buckeye backcourt.
Rounding out the front court will be graduate transfer Tanaya Beacham and incoming freshman Gabby Hutcherson. Beacham played in 95 games at Toledo over the last three seasons and brings a gritty veteran toughness inside. Hutcherson is a long, athletic, 6-1 forward that can cause a matchup problem on the perimeter and can score inside. Guard Hevynne Bristow, who played the previous season at Providence, will sit out this season while fulfilling her NCAA transfer responsibilities.
The goal of any season is to be playing your best at the end of the year. Last year’s team was certainly doing that before COVID-19 had other plans. The encouraging thing for McGuff and his staff is that this year’s team should pick up right where it left off.