Mitchell Ready to Step Up

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Akil Mitchell can be an effective offensive player, but has to let the game come to him.

Akil Mitchell has some pretty big shoes to fill this season. With the departure of senior post leaders Assane Sene and Mike Scott, and the transfer of James Johnson , Mitchell now becomes the only true veteran in the post. While Coach Tony Bennett suggests offense will now come from a “committee” of players, there’s no doubt Mitchell will be called upon to do a lot of the dirty work in the paint (i.e. rebounding and defense).

Mitchell averaged 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last year in 22 minutes. While the point average is low, don’t be fooled. Mitchell can score when needed and has been working on improving his face-up mid-range shot to help the transition from Scott’s team-leading 18 points per game last season. Mitchell says he’d like to be a double-double type of performer, much like Scott in his final two seasons. And while that seems a bit optimistic, senior point guard Jontel Evans thinks Mitchell has the potential to be that kind of player.

“I definitely do. He showcased that in Europe”, says Evans. “There was one game he had 20 points and 16 rebounds. He just has to do the things he’s capable of doing, like rebounding, catch and shoot 15 feet from the basket, and running the floor. Once he’s locked in on those categories, he’s a tough player to match up with.”

Coach Tony Bennett hasn’t assigned any point or rebounding goals for Mitchell, but did offer this.

“Akil had a nice summer for us. He showed a little more production”, said Coach Bennett. “Akil just has to be Akil. At the end of the year he started playing some good basketball for us. He was productive with offensive rebounds and finishing plays. And he has worked hard to develop some more work on his shots, some more moves, whether he’s facing the basket, off the lane, or just little things. Just the