2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Tony Mitchell

Today’s featured draft profile will be on the University of North Texas wing, Tony Mitchell. A player with the ability to operate at small forward or power forward, Mitchell is an outstanding athlete, possessing all the physical tools to make an impact at the pro-level. Viewed as a potential lottery pick after his standout freshman year at North Texas, a disappointing sophomore campaign marred with character concerns caused his stock to dive, as many scouts are now placing Mitchell in the 20′s of the first round. The Knicks may be looking at a bargain should Mitchell slide to #24.

Birthday: 4/7/92 – Projected NBA Position(s): Small Forward/Power Forward – Class: Sophomore – Ht: 6-9 – Wt: 236 – Hometown: Dallas, TX

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 13.0 Points – 0.8 Assists – 8.5 Rebounds – 44.0 FG% – 30.0 3P% – 67.5 FT%

Mitchell's Combine Results

Mitchell’s Pre-Draft Combine Results

Strengths

- Gifted athlete

- Promising skill set/can play at the 3 or 4

- Very good potential as a shot blocker

- Active offensive rebounder/averaged close to 3 per game

- Strong finisher who doesn’t shy away from contact

- Budding 3-point shot can help with spacing

Weaknesses

- Numbers dropped across the board in his sophomore year

- Suspect motor

- Not a smart defender/caught out of position often

- Questionable shot selection

- Poor decision maker/averaged almost 3 TO per game

Mitchell put NBA scouts on notice with his freshman season at North Texas, averaging a double-double with 14.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 56.7% shooting from the field and 43.9% from 3. But during the following off-season, the North Texas basketball program would undergo changes, as former head coach Johnny Jones departed to LSU, and was replaced by former Marquette assistant coach Tony Benford. After finishing the 2011-12 season 4 games above .500, North Texas finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 12-20, concluding Benford’s first year as coach with a 74-55 blowout at the hands of Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round of the Sun Belt conference Tournament. The team clearly didn’t respond well to the coaching change, and no one was more guilty of going through the motions than Mitchell.

Looking at the contrast between his freshman and sophomore seasons, to say it was simply a matter of effort isn’t 100% accurate, but it isn’t too far off base either. The coaching change plays a role, as well as the horrendous seasons North Texas got from the guard position. But while there were many contributing factors as to why the Mean Green didn’t improve on their success from their 2011-12 season, it’s alarming how with the team at such a low point, Mitchell whiffed on a chance to become a leader for North Texas. He was too often guilty of defensive lapses, standing and watching on the defensive boards, and flat-out not playing hard.

Players like Mitchell can be dangerous, because they often implore the use of the dreaded “p” word: potential. In the NBA, drafting players based solely off of their potential can make a GM look like a genius, or cost him his job just as quickly. Mitchell has shown lottery pick talent during his collegiate career, but his game showed no improvements last season and it raises questions to if he has the drive to continue to get better once he is drafted.

The Knicks had to deal with a plethora of blows to their front-court including Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas retiring due to injury, Marcus Camby falling out of favor with head coach Mike Woodson, and former DPOY Tyson Chandler dealing with a bum neck and several other ailments last season. They can use some help on the glass as well as an infusion of youth and athleticism, and Mitchell at the very least can provide that. If he can put the questions surrounding his work ethic and motor behind him, and improve his offensive game, Mitchell could be a great value if he makes it to New York. A high risk, high reward pick at it’s finest.

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