SHARONVILLE, Ohio – With a whistle around her neck, Kelsey Mitchell reversed her basketball role Saturday morning at Princeton High School.
As she instructed the line of young basketball players working on their shot, the Indiana Fever guard and former Ohio State and Princeton standout played the role of camp instructor for the first time.
The smile on her face showed how much fun she had. She enjoyed the energy vibes and personalities from the campers in the morning. There were 150 campers at the Princeton gym on Saturday.
A banner with her name hung high above the court recognizing her memorable high school career as a McDonald’s All-American at Princeton. Campers asked for photos and autographs. Everyone wore her camp T-shirt.
Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to welcome the basketball standout home. And Saturday was another example of why she is so beloved at her alma mater.
She plans to donate the proceeds of the “Kelz Hoop Basketball Camp” back to Princeton in order to lessen the pay-to-participate high school sports fees. The camp is expected to be an annual event.
“She is a first class athlete and first class person,” Princeton Athletic Director Gary Croley Jr. said. “She has always been about team and been about Viking Family. This is just another display of her just putting people before her. There are so many kids that can benefit. Not just from the camp but being exposed to the type of athlete she is as well as being able to help us continue to provide opportunities for kids to participate in sports.”
Mitchell recently signed her first pro overseas contract with Turkish EuroCup Club, Besiktas. Mitchell said the competition is at a very high level. The contract is for six months and she will continue to play with the Fever next spring and summer.
In the meantime, Mitchell, a 2014 Princeton graduate, is expected to participate in the USA Basketball World Cup training camp starting Sept. 3 at the University of South Carolina. USA Basketball hasn’t officially announced the list of training camp invitees leading into the World Cup but if Mitchell is selected she will participate in that before leaving for Turkey.
Mitchell, the No. 2 draft pick in the WNBA Draft this past spring, said she learned a lot about the business of pro basketball this summer. The Fever had a 6-28 record and finished last in the Eastern Conference standings. She quickly learned to transition from the college to pro game and the importance of maintaining a positive outlook.
“It was definitely a roller coaster ride for me,” Mitchell said.
However, Mitchell, who finished second on the Fever with 12.7 points per game, became the first WNBA rookie since 2002 and third in league history to make 70 3-point field goals.
Mitchell (70) and rookie Victoria Vivians (65) combined for 135 3-pointers, the most by any rookie duo in league history. Coach Pokey Chatman likes the potential of the team going into the offseason including what Mitchell brought to the table this summer.
Mitchell said she leaned on family and friends for their guidance during the ups and downs of the season. She said it was nice to return to her hometown for a brief break this month.
While her rookie season was a challenge, she also grew from it.
“I wouldn’t say the toughest but I gained the most experience this first year for sure,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, a 2014 Princeton High School graduate, was the first four-time All-American in the Ohio State women’s basketball program. She is the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer (male or female).
She was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year for third time this past season and became Ohio State’s first four-time All-American.
Mitchell finished her career as the NCAA’s second all-time leading scorer with 3,402 career points. She also made 497 career three-pointers which is 56 more than any other female in NCAA history.
Mitchell owns 30 OSU, Big Ten or NCAA records and is just one of four players in NCAA history with more than 3,000 points and 500 assists.