So We're Signing Tony Mitchell. What Exactly Does That Mean?

In the midst of yesterday's "Mitchell committed! Or maybe he didn't...yes he did!" commotion, Mizzou fans got to pound their chest a bit, as the notion that "Mike Anderson will never recruit with the big boys" now rings quite false.  While we've been justifiably doing some chest-pounding about the signing-to-be of Mitchell, what we haven't been asking is, what exactly can we expect from him?  It's easy to think of 5-stars being immediately great; former 5-star SF's like Luol Deng, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant were indeed outstanding.  But what about the others?  On average, what does a five-star small forward produce in his first season?

In the past year, Mitchell has grown from 6'6, 195, to 6'8 (supposedly), 220.  That makes him rather large for a projected small forward.  Below, I've listed all 5-star SF's, but I have bold-faced the ones most similar in size to Mitchell (i.e. 6'6 to 6'9, 210-230 pounds).  Clearly we're relying on Rivals for not only the ratings themselves, but also the projected positions.  That's just the nature of the beast.  Anyway, here is the list.

Freshman Performance for Rivals Five-Star Small Forwards Since 2002
Player (Ht, Wt) First Yr. School MPG PPG RPG APG TOPG PPS ShPM
Al-Farouq Aminu (6'8, 210) 2008-09 Wake Forest 29.0 12.9 8.2 1.5 2.6 1.42 0.31
Devin Ebanks (6'8, 185) 2008-09 West Virginia 30.2 10.5 7.8 2.7 1.9 1.31 0.27
Dequan Jones (6'6, 195) 2008-09 Miami 11.0 2.7 1.7 0.5 0.9 0.88 0.28
Chris Singleton (6'8, 210) 2008-09 Florida State 26.9 8.1 4.9 1.1 2.0 1.22 0.25
Austin Daye (6'9, 184) 2007-08 Gonzaga 18.5 10.5 4.7 1.0 1.7 1.42 0.40
Jamelle Horne (6'7, 205) 2007-08 Arizona 15.3 3.0 2.7 0.3 0.3 1.08 0.18
Davon Jefferson (6'7, 190) 2007-08 USC 27.8 12.1 6.3 0.8 2.4 1.46 0.30
Chandler Parsons (6'8, 190) 2007-08 Florida 20.7 8.1 4.0 1.4 1.0 1.34 0.29
Corey Stokes (6'5, 210) 2007-08 Villanova 18.3 6.4 2.4 0.5 0.9 1.11 0.32
Bill Walker (6'6, 220) 2007-08 Kansas State 27.3 16.1 6.3 1.9 2.6 1.28 0.46
Kyle Singler (6'8, 210) 2007-08 Duke 28.6 13.3 5.8 1.4 2.2 1.30 0.36
Anthony Randolph (6'10, 210) 2007-08 LSU 32.8 15.6 8.5 1.2 3.0 1.23 0.39
Chase Budinger (6'7, 190) 2006-07 Arizona 33.0 15.6 5.8 2.0 1.6 1.33 0.35
Earl Clark (6'7, 190) 2006-07 Louisville 16.0 5.9 3.8 0.4 0.8 1.28 0.29
Kevin Durant (6'9, 200) 2006-07 Texas 35.9 25.8 11.1 1.3 2.8 1.40 0.51
Paul Harris (6'4, 220) 2006-07 Syracuse 21.7 8.6 7.1 1.6 1.9 1.39 0.29
Damion James (6'8, 225) 2006-07 Texas 25.9 7.6 7.2 0.9 1.5 1.32 0.22
Curtis Kelly (6'7, 236) 2006-07 UConn 9.4 2.7 2.5 0.2 0.9 1.37 0.21
Stanley Robinson (6'8, 220) 2006-07 UConn 17.5 5.1 4.4 0.8 1.4 1.13 0.26
DaJuan Summers (6'8, 225) 2006-07 Georgetown 26.4 9.2 3.7 1.1 2.1 1.29 0.27
Thaddeus Young (6'8, 205) 2005-06 Georgia Tech 29.6 14.4 4.9 2.0 2.2 1.20 0.40
Joe Krabbenhoft (6'7, 200) 2005-06 Wisconsin 16.3 3.6 4.2 1.4 1.1 1.13 0.19
Tasmin Mitchell (6'7, 220) 2005-06 LSU 34.4 11.4 5.6 2.8 2.3 1.13 0.29
Brandon Rush (6'6, 200) 2005-06 Kansas 31.7 13.5 5.9 2.0 2.5 1.24 0.34
Julian Wright (6'8, 215) 2005-06 Kansas 20.1 8.5 4.6 1.8 1.9 1.28 0.33
Rudy Gay (6'8, 205) 2004-05 UConn 28.8 11.8 5.4 1.5 2.0 1.28 0.32
Marquise Gray (6'8, 215) 2004-05 Michigan State 12.9 3.0 3.6 0.4 0.9 1.24 0.19
Shawne Williams (6'8, 200) 2004-05 Memphis 27.3 13.2 6.2 1.9 2.3 1.26 0.38
Luol Deng (6'8, 217) 2003-04 Duke 31.1 15.1 6.9 1.8 2.2 1.26 0.38
J.R. Giddens (6'5, 185) 2003-04 Kansas 25.9 11.3 3.6 0.8 1.1 1.26 0.35
Regis Koundjia (6'8, 210) 2003-04 LSU 18.3 3.9 3.6 1.0 1.3 0.99 0.21
Von Wafer (6'5, 210) 2003-04 Florida State 17.7 7.9 1.9 1.1 1.1 1.04 0.43
Carmelo Anthony (6'7, 210) 2002-03 Syracuse 36.4 22.2 10.0 2.2 2.2 1.27 0.48
Antoine Wright (6'7, 195) 2002-03 Texas A&M 31.8 14.5 6.6 1.8 2.3 1.03 0.44


Analysis after the jump.

First of all, it's hard not to notice the abundance of outright studs on this list.  As we always say, star ratings are all about margin for error.  There's no guarantee that a 5-star kid will be an All-American (hello, Regis Koundjia), but the odds are better for a 5-star than a 4-, 3-, or 2-star.  Through the years, Rivals has done a solid job of locating the can't-miss guys and giving them the 5-star reward.  However, a) it's still not a gimme that Mitchell will be as good as these guys, and b) just because they were great doesn't mean they were great their freshman year.

I am including overall averages for three categories: all players, those with similar size (in bold), and those with almost the exact same size (Damion James, DaJuan Summers, Tasmin Mitchell, Julian Wright, Marquise Gray, Luol Deng).  That last category is a tiny sample size, but I was curious.

Averages
Category MPG PPG RPG APG TOPG PPS ShPM
All 24.8 10.6 5.4 1.4 1.8 1.26 0.34
Similar Size
26.8 11.1 5.9 1.5 2.0 1.26 0.33
Almost Exact Size
25.7 9.4 5.3 1.5 1.9 1.25 0.29

 

Honestly, the "Similar Size" category seems to be relatively realistic.  We know he won't average 26.8 minutes per game out of the gates -- almost nobody does that in this system -- but in the end, he might get 26.8 minutes' worth of possessions, considering the pace of the Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.  I would figure that 9-11 PPG, 5-7 RPG is the most likely scenario here.

So what else do we know about Mitchell at this point?

A lot of 5-star kids come in quite polished, but supposedly that is not the case with Mitchell.  You can see from highlight videos that he's got a nice jumper that is still developing...

One area he has improved greatly is his release on his jump shot. He used to have a low release which made his accuracy very inconsistent from the perimeter. Through a lot of hard work in the gym he has retooled his form and now has a good looking stroke with better results out to the 3 point line.

...but overall I'm thinking his offensive game might be limited at first, and his biggest early contribution might be on the offensive glass and on defense.

The athleticism and potential were there; then Mitchell's body and his game matured over the summer. Built like a legitimate NBA small forward, Mitchell had his coming-out party at the King City Classic, where he excelled against the top prospects in the country. Then in Las Vegas, he continued to make waves with his overall scoring prowess and athletic defensive play.

We have to figure Mitchell will be used as the typical Mike Anderson power forward, and knowing what that seems to mean in general -- hit the glass hard, lead the press, drain 17-footers -- it's hard to imagine he won't be tremendously successful.  He doesn't seem like the type of 5-star kid who will look to jump to the NBA at the first opportunity either, so we should see at least a couple years of development before all is said and done.  His imminent signing really is a nice statement for Mike Anderson, and I think we can continue to see Missouri in competition for players like this.  As I mentioned a few months ago, we don't have to land many of these guys to see some breakthrough success, but getting one in the bag (plus Phil Pressey, who is very highly-regarded, if not a five-star recruit) is really nice to see.

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