By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS — Kelsey Mitchell, a unanimous choice as the 27th annual Associated Press Ms. Basketball winner, stands out from the crowd.
Except for team and family photos, that is.
Kelsey, a 5-foot-8 senior from state-bound Cincinnati Princeton High School, is a twin. And they are just one of two sets of twins in the immediate family.
So while some might marvel over her unique moves on the court, others wonder about her relationship with her 5-11 sister Chelsea, a Princeton star who is also joining her at Ohio State next year.
“We’re two relatively different people,” Kelsey said. “We do our own things, but then again she is one my best friends. So we talk about a lot of things together, but she’s so different from me. She very outgoing.”
Kelsey’s play speaks volumes, however.
She’s a do-everything guard who averages 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 4.1 steals a game for a team that is 26-2 heading into Friday night’s Division I state semifinal against Toledo Notre Dame (24-3).
“She does it all. She can get to the basket, she can shoot the 3, she finds open people and plays great defense,” said her coach, Jill Phillips.
What most amazes Phillips is that Kelsey’s motor is always running even if her mouth isn’t.
“I guess the thing is that she never takes a play off,” Phillips said. “Practice, game — there’s never a time when she’s not giving 100 percent.”
Kelsey is a McDonald’s All American who doesn’t let her ego get in the way of the No. 1 objective, winning.
Asked what she does best on the court, the student with a 3.76 grade-point average hesitated for a second.
“Best? I think I distribute the ball well,” she said. “Lately I’ve been averaging a lot of assists. My teammates have been making big-time shots in big-time games, so I’m more than happy to distribute the ball to them.”
Beware, opponents. That doesn’t mean you can slack off on guarding her.
The lefty shot 35 percent on 3-pointers this season. In the regional semifinal against defending state champion Kettering Fairmont, she piled up 50 points.
Funny, but there’s a debate whether the best girls player in the state is even the best player in her family.
First, Chelsea can play, a three-star prospect who’s a double-figure scorer on the state’s No. 1 team in the final AP regular-season poll.
Second and third, well, there are brothers Cameron and Kevin who play for Indiana University Southeast. The Grenadiers have a 25-4 record and are in the NAIA playoffs.
“My brothers are one of the reasons that I am the player that I am today,” Kelsey said. “They’re great basketball players, so they made me better.”
Kelsey and Chelsea will be playing on their future home court at Value City Arena when they play in the state tournament. As might be expected, it’s been an exciting week around Princeton, with tickets up for grabs, people making travel plans and everyone anticipating the Vikings’ big moment in the spotlight.
“I’m very excited. I’m happy that our team has made progress to get to state and I’m just honored to be there,” Kelsey said. “We’re just honored to be there.”
Ms. Basketball is determined in voting by a state panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
Past winners include Katie Smith, the leading scorer in professional women’s basketball history, along with two-time winner Ameryst Alston, now at Ohio State, and past Cincinnati-area standouts Kendall Hackney (Mount Notre Dame, 2009), Amber Gray (Lakota West, 2008), Mel Thomas (Mount Notre Dame, 2004), Michelle Munoz (Mason, 2000-01), Carol Madsen (Reading, 1989) and Janet Haneberg (Seton, the inaugural winner in 1988).
Other finalists for this year’s award included Reynoldsburg’s Alyssa Rice, Clyde’s Amanda Cahill, Kristen Confroy of Solon, Reedsville Eastern’s Jenna Burdette, Laina Snyder of Millersburg West Holmes and Cortland Lakeview’s Alli Pavlik.