The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Shyanne Sellers’s growth is evident on the stat sheet and TikTok

Maryland guard Shyanne Sellers is the Terps' second-leading scorer with 14.7 points per game. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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A strain in Suzy Merchant’s voice was immediately recognizable as she talked about the one that got away. Her Michigan State Spartans had just lost to Maryland, and the coach in her 16th season specifically sought out opposing guard Shyanne Sellers afterward.

“Oh, that one breaks my heart,” Merchant said. “I recruited her very, very, very hard for years, long before [Maryland Coach] Brenda [Frese] showed up in her gym. Please share that with her! … It’s hard to see her in a Maryland uniform still, but I’m happy for her. … She’s getting better and better every time she’s out there.”

Opposing coaches are learning that on a weekly basis as Sellers has thrived during her sophomore season. The 6-foot-2 guard was the star of the Terrapins’ 2021 class, ranked the No. 22 prospect in the country by ESPN, and she has watched her numbers increase dramatically in just about every metric.

Shyanne Sellers plays with no fear. Her mom made sure of that.

The maturation process has been intriguing for Sellers, who was already pretty mature as a freshman. Her mom, Kym, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992 and Sellers watched her fight every day and never feel sorry for herself. Sellers has a tattoo on her forearm that reads “Self Made” as a reminder of the hard work it took — and takes — to continue growing.

She spent most of the summer in Maryland, instead of returning home to Ohio, to work on her skills. There were emphases on ballhandling, shooting from midrange, being aggressive, driving to the basket and finishing around the rim. All of those have been on display this season, with the highlight being a buzzer-beating three-pointer to knock off Purdue on the road.

Not only is Sellers the second-leading scorer on the No. 9 team in the country, but she also regularly guards the opponent’s top perimeter player on a nightly basis.

“The great thing about Shy is you can challenge her in any area,” Frese said, “and she wants to be great. And she’s really put herself where she’s had to get in phenomenal shape to be able to play hard from both ends of the floor, especially with what’s being asked of her and expected.”

Scoring has been Sellers’s biggest statistical improvement, from 7.7 points per game to 14.7. Assists and rebounds are both up, and she already has four more blocks in 16 games (11) than she had in 32 last season. Her field goal percentage is up nearly 9 percentage points, three-pointers nearly 6 percentage points and free throws almost 9 percentage points. All of this comes with the slight increase of about one minute per game.

The offensive improvement coincided with a permanent move into the starting lineup after six games. Sellers was named the Big Ten sixth player of the year last season, when she made her name as a defensive stopper on a team loaded with scorers. With nine newcomers, Maryland needed more offense this season, and Sellers stepped up.

Third-quarter dominance lets No. 13 Terps snare their sixth straight win

“The way she’s scoring — her ability to get downhill, her speed, her burst and a lot of her stuff comes from getting steals and pushing the other way,” ESPN and Big Ten Network analyst Christy Winters-Scott said. “It’s just her aggression. It’s evolved on the offensive end. She’s always had it on the defensive end, and she was very raw on the offensive end last year.

“Everyone says there’s always a huge jump between freshman and sophomore years, which is true. You know what to expect. You get to know yourself a little bit better, too. And I think that’s why her confidence level is through the roof. She’s very self-aware.”

Maryland (13-3, 4-1) will face one of its biggest tests of the season Thursday with a trip to No. 6 Indiana. The Hoosiers (14-1, 4-1) recently got back first-team all-Big Ten guard and all-American honorable mention Grace Berger from a right knee injury suffered in late November. The fifth-year senior posted 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists when Indiana knocked Maryland out of the 2022 Big Ten tournament. It was the first time Maryland was bounced from the tournament without a win and the first time it hadn’t advanced to the title game since it became a member of the Big Ten in 2014.

The Terps have won a season-high six consecutive games and have enjoyed their previous trips to the state of Indiana this season, with buzzer-beating wins against No. 7 Notre Dame and Purdue plus a blowout of Purdue Fort Wayne.

Sellers has displayed her comfort and confidence on and off the court. She has been more vocal and outgoing while showing off her personality on social media with roommate and fellow starter Faith Masonius. The pair are routinely together on TikTok, with Masonius, who has never been accused of being shy, leading the way. One day, it’s Sellers attempting to apply Masonius’s makeup. Another day, they’re dunking each other’s faces in a bowl of water. Sellers, however, is on-air talent only — pointing out that Masonius does all the editing and posting.

“We’re roommates now, so we’re like, ‘Okay, we’re bored; what can we do?’ ” Masonius said with a laugh. “So we just find stupid stuff to do on social media. It’s funny and it’s fun. . . . Well, at least we think we’re funny.

It’s definitely [her] being more comfortable in who she is here at Maryland and just as a person. But I’ve definitely seen, this year, her personality coming out more. She’s always had that personality, but she’s more outgoing and more energetic around people she knows. But I think it’s just, like, confidence in herself is obviously growing, and it’s making her be more outgoing and showing her real personality outside of at home.”

Sellers added, with a smirk: “[Masonius is] usually the mastermind behind it or asking me, ‘Can we do a TikTok?’ And I’m usually getting bribed into it by saying she’ll get me Starbucks or food.”