Articles

Tony Mitchell

 

 

PF

North Texas

6’9”

220lbs

4/7/92

 

Offense

 

North Texas forward Tony Mitchell, a former top-25 ranked recruit and Mizzou commit, has become one of the draft’s more intriguing prospects after two polarizing years in Denton. Forced to sit out the ’10-’11 season due to academic issues, Mitchell put together an outstanding freshman year for the Mean Green a season ago that placed him in the discussion as a potential lottery pick. On the offensive end, Mitchell is a versatile forward with elite athleticism, length, and quickness for a post player. He is at his best in the half court when playing face-up from about 12-16 feet from the hoop. From here, he is great at getting around his man with speed and attacking the rim with explosiveness. Mitchell is rapid and decisive in his moves with the ball, using a quick first step to create separation and his NBA-level athleticism to finish in the paint. Mitchell plays with an outstanding motor, and displays great movement off of the ball to create more opportunities for himself around the basket. He is a very good passer out of double teams, which he sees plenty of in the Sun Belt, and is improving his midrange game and ability to hurt opposing defenses with his jump shot. Mitchell is a menace on the offensive glass, relentlessly attacking the boards once a shot goes up and beating his man for positioning under the basket. Mitchell’s offensive game is still a work in progress, but his athleticism, speed, and motor provide very high upside on that side of the ball.

 

The biggest question with Mitchell’s offense, and his entire game, revolves around his performance this past season. After shocking scouts by deciding to come back for a second year at North Texas, Mitchell has been one of the biggest disappointments in the country. Touted as an elite athlete that will only improve against the weak competition that North Texas plays, Mitchell regressed across the board offensively in ’12-’13. In increased minutes Mitchell scored less (down from 14.7 PPG to 13 PPG), shot it much worse (from 56.7% to 44%), had fewer assists, and jacked more threes than he did in his stellar freshman season. Mitchell averaged less than 11 points a game in the team’s final 14 games, including going scoreless in 32 minutes in a game against an average FIU team. Mitchell’s North Texas team also suffered a brutal year, going just 12-20 and finishing 9th out of 11 Sun Belt Teams. Mitchell has to improve his shooting consistency and range to make up for his extremely disappointing season shooting the ball. He is still a raw offensive player and must develop more of a back to the basket game. Most importantly, Mitchell must show in workouts that as a player, he is closer to the dominant, efficient product displayed his freshman year than the passive, sometimes soft player that scouts saw this season.

 

Defense

 

Even after a difficult sophomore season, Mitchell is still a very solid NBA prospect mostly because of his defensive ability. One metric that dropped but only minimally is Mitchell’s ability to block shots. Mitchell topped the league this year at nearly three blocks per game, a result of his elite leaping ability and length. Mitchell is not only physically gifted, but also times his jump extremely well, consistently showing up out of nowhere to slide over and block a shot. He is very quick in his help from the weak side, whether he rejects a shot or alters an opponent’s attempt. Mitchell has the potential to guard both forward positions at the next level because of his size and speed, and also because of the great motor and intensity that he plays with defensively. Mitchell is also a very good defensive rebounder who goes up and gets the ball, both in traffic and in one-on-one rebounding scenarios. Even if Mitchell’s overall game is declined, he is still one of the better rebounders and shot blockers in the class with the potential to guard multiple positions at a high level in the NBA.

 

As impressive as Mitchell has been on the defensive end, he still needs to add a bit more lower body strength to assure that he can guard post players in the NBA. He could learn to play with a bit more physicality, as he uses speed to block shots, but struggles when players take it right to his chest. There have been times at UNT where Mitchell has been able to cruise defensively for stretches just on his elite athleticism, a luxury that he will not be afforded at the next level. If Mitchell proves he can add strength and hold his own against more physical play, he has the chance to be a very good defender at the pro level.

 

Overview

 

Tony Mitchell is this year’s version of the prospect that may have stayed at school a year too long. Had Mitchell come out after his freshman year, as many scouts expected him to, he would have likely fallen somewhere in the 15-24 range, with the potential to go even higher after workouts. Even in deciding to stay, many expected that after another productive season amongst Sun Belt competition, Mitchell could crack the lottery this year with an outside shot at making the top 10. But after an extremely disappointing season, both individually and for his team, Mitchell’s stock has fallen to the point where there is no guarantee that he will be taken in the first round. The potential is still sky-high for Mitchell. A stretch forward with outstanding athleticism and speed for his position, Mitchell displays a great motor and has plenty of room to improve offensively. On the defensive end, Mitchell adds immediate value to an NBA team as a rebounder and shot blocker that can potentially guard both forward spots. But first and foremost, Mitchell must answer why his production dropped this year, against poor competition in a season where he was expected to dominate. Tony Mitchell is still a very intriguing prospect with the opportunity to develop into a good player at the next level, but his sophomore year raise major red flags that have scouts divided on his current draft position.