Friar Basketball

Two Years of Tracking Donovan Mitchell

DonovanMitchell2014

I’d never heard of Donovan Mitchell at this time two years ago. It was then that an AAU coach I’d grown to trust more than any other started selling me on Mitchell. And selling and selling and selling.

The 2012 Providence Elite Camp — the first one PC held — was my first opportunity to see Mitchell, and it didn’t take long for me to buy in. There’s not always a lot to learn at these camps, with hundreds of players running through drills and 5 on 5 games consisting of kids who could be meeting each other for the first time, but a few unheralded players can wow you.

That summer it was the athleticism of an unknown wing who flew through drills (Terry Larrier), an offer-less center teasing his potential by making 3-4 highlight blocks (Paschal Chukwu), and Mitchell, who had just completed his freshman season at Canterbury in Connecticut.

That camp also produced three current Friars: Chukwu, Rodney Bullock and Casey Woodring.

The 6’3 Mitchell played point guard that day, and looked like he could either turn into an overwhelming power 1, or the next Wayne Selden depending upon how he grew — both physically and as a player.

A month later, Providence and Iona were the first to offer and I figured it was only a matter of time before the likes of Kansas and North Carolina offered as well.

Mitchell spent the 2012-13 season at Canterbury, where he would win NEPSAC Class B Co-Player of the Year and reach the league’s championship game. His sophomore season brought offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland and Cincinnati, but the floodgates hadn’t fully opened yet playing for a school not known for its basketball.

A broken wrist kept him sidelined throughout the entire July Live Period in 2013, and he received just one additional offer last summer (from Iowa — data: Verbalcommits.com), returning to action at the second PC Elite Camp last August.

The camp had a different vibe in ’13. 2013 was all about targeting the top four 2014 recruits at the camp: Kaleb Joseph, Abdul Malik-Abu, Jared Terrell and Chukwu — selling these four on the potential of playing together at PC. They needed an underclassman to run with in 5 on 5s and the nod went to Mitchell over a number of other terrific prospects at the camp.

Mitchell sat in on the call from Chris Webber (of all people) and was there the next day when Magic Johnson was on campus for a charity basketball game.

It seemed inevitable that his stock would explode the following season at Brewster Academy, where he transferred for his final two high school seasons. While more offers came (Florida, St. John’s, Marquette and Creighton) and Mitchell started and, at times, starred for the Bobcats (he was MVP of the NEPSAC AAA playoffs), the aforementioned floodgates didn’t truly open until this summer as he shared the spotlight at Brewster with seniors like Isaac Copeland, Devonte Graham, Jared Terrell and Jonah Bolden.

Coaches had seen glimmers of his potential at Brewster. This summer, now fully healthy, it’s been the entire package. Louisville and Indiana offered in mid-July and he’ll visit both. Florida State (June visit), Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Georgia Tech (June visit), Oklahoma, Memphis and Wichita State have all offered this summer as well.

And now North Carolina and Kansas are reportedly showing interest (Rivals.com).

He’s perhaps the breakout player of the summer, with NBC’s Scott Phillips calling him the most impressive lead guard of the most recent Live Period and Rivals labeling him the hottest name of July.

And now, Providence fans wait. The optimists will point toward Kris Dunn’s recruitment and how the Friars held off powerhouses by arriving earlier (and more frequently) than anyone, while others justifiably cringe as blue bloods enters the mix for a prospect who has consistently said he wants to go to a “big” school.

A college decision that was originally going to come in September has now been pushed back, as Mitchell is reassessing his options with the interest he garnered this summer.

And the reality is, there are a factors that have yet to be determined that will play a factor (what guards pop for Louisville or Indiana this summer?) and questions that have yet to be asked (does Mitchell want to play in the realigned Big East?)

When Ed Cooley took this job in 2011 he said he wanted to make it very hard for kids to say no to him, and Providence has done virtually everything imaginable in their pursuit of Mitchell, including continuing to heavily recruit him while he was out injured last summer. Getting in early worked with stars like Dunn and Jalen Lindsey, but others chose to go elsewhere, despite the fullcourt press.

While Mitchell’s decision may not come in September, there’s a good chance we’ll have strong indications of if he’s a PC lean or not by then. Cooley has shown an ability to bounce back from near misses (Ben Bentil on the heels of Abu to NC State last season, for example), but a 2015 class headlined by Mitchell would be a tremendous follow up to the frontcourt-heavy haul of ’14.

The Friars desperately need quality guards in the class of 2015 after only bringing in one for next season. They’ve had this one in particular pegged well before almost anyone else.

 

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

Email: kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.