Minutes before a Georgetown women’s basketball home game, the atmosphere in the bowels of McDonough Arena is one that could be found in any locker room. Players talk amongst themselves, preparing for the upcoming opponent. Someone dribbles a basketball, laughter peals out of nowhere, and the coaches finalize the starting lineup. However, one player is noticeably silent.
“I like to calm down, be cool and collected,” sophomore guard Kelsey Ransom said of her pregame routine. “I don’t speak a lot before games.”
The star-in-the-making lets her play do the talking.
Last season, Ransom started every game for the Hoyas on her way to being tabbed for the Big East All-Freshman Team. Her performance was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season for the Georgetown women’s basketball team, which had the pall of the COVID-19 pandemic hanging over it. This year, Ransom has the benefit of a full offseason program under her belt and is ready to take the next step into the upper echelon of Big East players and lead her team to another level.
Well before coming to the Hilltop, Ransom’s calling card has been her tenacious defense. In high school, Ransom was twice named Defensive Player of the Year in the prestigious Rose Classic league. Her prowess carried over smoothly to her first collegiate season. In an interview with the Voice at the end of last season, head coach James Howard called her one of the best defensive players in the conference, an important asset for a team that will face dominant guards such as UConn’s Paige Bueckers, St. John’s Leilani Correa, and Villanova’s Madison Siegrist multiple times. For her part, Ransom relishes the opportunity to show off what she can do against the best guards in the Big East.
“I play my best against the best,” she said. “Every time I go out there, I think of it as an opportunity to get better. We lace up our shoes the same way.”
Besides shutting down opposing scorers, Ransom was the engine that drove the Georgetown offense last season, leading the team in minutes (33.4 per game), points (10.5 per game), and assists (3.9 per game). Even if other players on the roster take the next step, the only way that the Hoyas can make noise in the Big East is for Ransom to evolve on both sides of the ball. Last year, a lot of her success on the offensive end was undone due to turnovers—Ransom averaged an unsightly 5.2 turnovers per game, totalling a 66:89 assist to turnover ratio on the season. Those are growing pains that come with playing big minutes as a freshman, but to get to the next level, Ransom knows cutting down on turnovers is a must.
“You can say I led the team in this, this, and that last year,” she said. “We didn’t win. I led the team in turnovers. I’m okay with saying that I was a big part of that.”
Following last season, Howard was excited to have Ransom and the team’s other young players in the gym for the entire offseason and preseason after COVID-19 ripped those opportunities away last year. Ransom spent her summer focusing on decision-making and court vision in preparation for lead ball-handling duties this season. An improved offseason also gave Ransom a chance to go up against her teammates every day in practice, building vital chemistry.
Ransom’s frequent matchup in practice is fellow sophomore Yasmin Ott, a speedy guard who was a capable player off the bench last season. According to Ransom, the two show each other no mercy in practices, focusing on making each other better players.
“You might hate me through the entirety of practice, but you will come out being a better player,” Ransom said of their duels.
In an interview before her freshman season, Ransom said that one of her goals in college was to “create a bond bigger than teammates, as sisters and family.”
So far, she has found that on the Hilltop.
“This is probably going to be one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on,” Ransom said. “These are really my sisters.”
Only four players have been on the roster longer than her, and Ransom sees this as an opportunity to be someone her teammates can rely on, both on and off the court. Even as a freshman, Ransom was already a leader on this team, and now she is looking to bring new confidence and experience to the role.
“I dedicated this offseason and preseason to really working on myself and being an approachable person,” Ransom said. “Someone that people are comfortable with and can talk to and look to on the court and feel safe with. It’s really important as a player so that your teammates trust you and vice versa.”
With that trust comes a focus on team success over individual stats. Ransom doesn’t need to be the player with the ball in her hands in the waning moments to make an impact—if a teammate’s open, she is more than happy to find her.
The Hoyas have high hopes this season, but the only way for them to reach their ceiling will be through Ransom’s leadership. No matter what the score is, or how long she has been out there, expect Ransom to set the example.
“I’m going to be composed, I’ll hold this team to a standard.”
Back in the locker room, Ransom is nearly ready for game time. Mary J. Blige, Solange, and Snoh Aalegra cycle through her headphones as she gets in the zone. Soon it’s time to tip off. As she gets up and makes her way to the court, she doesn’t make a speech or tell her teammates what they need to do. She’s silent in the locker room; on the court, she roars.