Tony Mitchell commented at the NBA Scouting Combine this week about how he coasted at times last season.
It has been open season on Mitchell since with people commenting on what that says about Mitchell as a person.
I thought it said a lot too — about how Mitchell has taken the high road throughout the last year.
Mitchell could have said any number of things to explain away last year. Considering his stature as a former Dallas area star and likely first-round NBA draft pick and how last season went, what he had to say carried a lot of weight. And he put the blame on himself instead of anyone else. He talked about how he needed to be more consistent. He talked about the injuries UNT suffered last year.
I can’t remember a single time Mitchell has uttered a word that would hurt UNT’s program after one of the most disappointing seasons in school history.
And he certainly had the opportunity to do just that after UNT struggled following a coaching change, whether that was the problem or not.
What Mitchell did for UNT helped the Mean Green going forward — a lot.
Yeah, it’s disappointing for UNT fans to hear that Mitchell coasted at times.
I got an e-mail a while back from a fan who talked about how he wanted UNT’s star players to play hard all the time and look like they really care.
Here’s the problem.
UNT was gifted one of the top 20 talents in his class in all of basketball. It’s a point one can’t argue. Mitchell was the 12th-ranked player in his high school class. After the NBA combine, it looks like he will be a top 30 pick in the NBA draft.
Having a player like that at UNT is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It looks like Mitchell is about to become the first first-round NBA draft pick in UNT history. UNT has done a ton to upgrade its program over the years, but the fact of the matter is that a player of Mitchell’s caliber lands at UNT — or any other program not named Duke or Syracuse — for a reason. There is usually some kind of issue.
Mitchell’s was an academic one. And it’s one he handled at UNT.
Yeah, he didn’t hustle at times and sometimes it didn’t look like he cared.
I made this point to guy who e-mailed me to complain about how upset he was that Mitchell didn’t hustle all the time.
If UNT is going to wait for another guy like Mitchell to come along with a perfect personal life and no academic issues, who is also always highly motivated, always hustles and is a top 20 talent and just happens to want to come to UNT, it is going to be waiting a long time. UNT would be lucky to find a guy with all those traits who is half the player Mitchell is, period.
Few college athletes are perfect.
UNT was just very, very lucky to have a player like Mitchell who spent a season and a half at the school, even if he did coast at times.
The way he has handled the questions following his sophomore season at UNT only further illustrates the point.