As some of us know, NBA teams have 15 players per roster. However, only about 7-10 get to play any given night. That means 8-5 players are on the team for practice purposes only and to get that NBA money–can’t hate on that. Anyway, be prepared to get to know these guys pretty well, one 15th man at a time.
Say hello to the athletic beast that is Tony Mitchell!
Tony’s basketball story is filled with many unfortunate twists and turns, so please try to keep dry eyes. As a 6’9″ player, with a 7’3″ wingspan, Tony has been touted as an NBA prospect for quite some time. During his freshman and sophomore years in high school, he dominated the competition. So much so that an AAU coach–probably in an attempt to leech off of his skills–convinced him to transfer to a prep school in Miami, from Texas (where he grew up). After playing his junior year there, it was discovered that the school was not an “accredited prep school”, and thus most of his course work done there would not be recognized by the NCAA.
So he quickly transferred back to Texas to play his senior year, and tried to do more courses than allowed to catch up. He failed in this vein, losing his scholarship offer to the Missouri Tigers. He also spent another semester in high school, before going to the mid-major Division I school, University of North Texas. But his senior year in high school wasn’t all bad. He beat out Perry Jones III, current NBA player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, for the 2010 Dallas Morning News Player of the Year for 2010, after averaging 20.5 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, and 4.1 BPG.
Upon getting to the University of North Texas, he had to forfeit his true freshman year due to eligibility issues. So he started playing in the 2011-2012 season. He was a heck of freshman! He averaged 14.7 PPG and 10.3 RPG. To put that in perspective, Anthony Davis (current amazing NBA player and future superstar) was the only freshman in the country to average more rebounds than him–and only by a tenth of a board (10.4 RPG). CBS Sports took notice of his play and named Tony one of the “top 10 freshmen of the country”.
He was projected to be a first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but elected to stay for a sophomore year, citing that he “still needed to mature on and off the court”. Although very admirable, this was his second mistake of his basketball career. Before the start of the season, he was being penciled in as an All-American, and a “near guarantee” to win the Sun Belt Player of the Year. However, the main concern for players returning for their sophomore years–that their flaws will be exposed–happened to Tony. His stats took a dip (13 PPG and 8.5 PRG), his team faltered to a 12-20 record, and his leadership was being called into question.
Without a postseason in the cards, Tony decided to forgo his junior and senior years and declare for the 2013 NBA Draft. He was drafted in the second round (land of non-guaranteed contracts) by the Detroit Pistons, with the 37th pick. Thankfully, he was signed by the Pistons, and was voted “most athletic” by his rookie peers–by a whopping 47.2% of the rookies! His professional career has come by a bit slowly, only having played in 10 games this season. He has averages of 1.1 PPG, 1.1 RPG, and 0.2 BPG in only 3:41 minutes per game. But he has been recently called up by Pistons from the D-League, so there are bound to be brighter days ahead!
So now that we know the basketball side of Tony, what about the social media side of him?
Well, we know that he’s getting along with his Pistons teammates, and is even making Andre Drummond sweat a bit about his reputation as most explosive player (on the court, not in the bathroom–at least I hope so).
— Tony L. Mitchell Jr. (@TonyMitchUNENO) July 5, 2013
Several months later, the showdown occurred and what was proven was no surprise to Mr. Drummond.
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummondd) September 6, 2013
So Andre Drummond starts on the team, is more athletic, and is (probably) an All Star this season. Tough luck, rook!
Well, that’s everything about Tony Mitchell! You can practically write a biography on him if your crazy English teacher asked you to. Come back next week when I profile the 15th man of the Golden State Warriors!
Post Script: Here’s Tony being a super athletic prospect.