No one in the history of the Big Ten has scored quite like Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell.
She surpassed former Minnesota star Rachel Banham’s 3,093-point total to become the conference’s all-time leading scorer with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes’ win against Michigan State on Jan. 27. Just three people have scored more than Mitchell, who currently ranks as the fourth all-time NCAA career points leader with 3,264 points.
Mitchell might surpass another legend in Sunday’s season finale against Penn State. Only 19 points separate her from former Baylor forward Brittney Griner, who scored the third-most points in NCAA history. However, she might not be able to reach the top of the list as her career nears its close.
Griner, along with Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles (3,393 points) and Washington’s Kelsey Plum (3,527 points), sit above Mitchell. Entering her senior season, Mitchell needed to score 974 points to surpass Plum, who set the career points record last season. Mitchell had previously never scored more than 889 points.
Before the season, because of the veteran-laden team’s potential and the maturity of Mitchell’s game, no one ruled her out as a threat to Plum’s recently set record.
Now, with just one game remaining in Ohio State’s regular season and a deep run in the NCAA tournament seeming unlikely, Mitchell would require a near-impossible Herculean effort to reach Plum’s mark. She needs 129 points to become the second-highest scorer and 263 points to pass Plum to become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. Mitchell’s opportunities to rack up major scoring games continue to dwindle.
The Buckeyes will play one more regular-season game and three more games if they advance to the championship game in the Big Ten tournament. Then, they will play between one and six NCAA tournament games. In Mitchell’s first three years, though, Ohio State has never advanced beyond the Sweet 16, which is just three games into the tournament.
If Mitchell averages 24.5 points per game — her average this season — and the Buckeyes reach the Big Ten championship and are eliminated in the Sweet 16, she would end up with approximately 3,436 career points, 91 points away from Plum’s record. That would make her the second all-time leading scorer.
Even if the Buckeyes made an improbable run to the NCAA championship, Mitchell would need to average 26.3 points during the 10-game stretch to pass Plum.
Regardless of whether Mitchell lands first, second, third or fourth on the list of NCAA all-time scorers, she has already made a dent in history.
She has drilled more than 1,000 shots, nailed 450-plus 3-pointers and hit more than 750 free throws. Mitchell became the fastest player in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and has made the most 3s in NCAA history.
Mitchell also holds 16 program records. These include the highest career scoring average (24.5 points per game), most points in a season (889), points in a game (48), made 3s in a game (nine) and made free throws in a game (19).
Only three women stand in the way of Mitchell becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, but they will likely be just enough to the top spot out of reach. Either way, she is already the best scorer in the history of the Big Ten and Ohio State, which is not too bad of a consolation prize.