Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
For many freshmen, the adjustment to the college game takes time. Even the biggest of superstars (think Stewart, Breanna or Diggins, Skylar) needed an adjustment period.
Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell might be turning that notion upside down.
The Buckeyes freshman is already a scoring sensation and, thanks to a record-setting performance Dec. 22 against No. 18 West Virginia, the espnW national player of the week. Mitchell pumped in a freshman school-record 39 points and will take Ohio State into Big Ten play as the third-leading scorer in the nation, with 25.9 points per contest.
Mitchell is making this college thing look easy, at least on the offensive end. The 96-54 win over the Mountaineers ended a somewhat inconsistent nonconference season for the 8-4 Buckeyes but also marked the largest margin of victory over a ranked team in school history. Mitchell fueled the assault with eight 3-pointers, which matched another program best, on just 10 long-range attempts. In fact, Mitchell was remarkably efficient across the board: She made 12-of-18 field goals and shot 7-of-11 at the free throw line in just 27 minutes of action. Foul trouble kept her from potentially doing even more damage.
But those four fouls might have opened the door for Mitchell's backcourt mate, junior Ameryst Alston, to also flourish. Ohio State's top scorer and an all-Big Ten first-team choice a year ago, Alston added 26 points in the Buckeyes' biggest win of 2014. Mitchell and Alston form the most prolific point-producing duo in the country, with Alston averaging a nearly-as-impressive 21.9 points per game. One of them has led the Buckeyes in scoring each game this season, with Mitchell claiming the honors eight times. She has already had games of 35, 29, 28 and 26 points before topping each of those outputs with the performance in Columbus against the Mountaineers.
Mitchell was at or near the top of every recruiting service ranking and received nearly every scholastic honor possible in her final season at Cincinnati's Princeton High School, so it's not surprising to see her as the early leader for national freshman of the year. It's the immediacy with which she has done so much that is eyebrow-raising.
Coach Kevin McGuff might not have completely figured out what he has this season in Columbus, with losses to Virginia, Pittsburgh, Georgia and Wichita State preceding the thrashing of West Virginia, but he does know he has a freshman who can really score and appears to have figured out the college game as quickly as any of the all-time greats.