Coming into the season, not much was known about Mitchell Smith, except that he was tall, he was sort of from Arkansas, and he fit the ideal of what Kim Anderson wanted in a player. Big: check. Able to get to the rim: check. Bought in: check!
Then the season began, and things went sideways...
#5 Mitchell Smith
6'10" 210 lbs
It’s tough to compose a review piece of Smith’s season because it was so limited in the scope of minutes played and the injury that cut his freshman campaign off right as the Tigers entered SEC play.
Before the LSU game, Smith had shown in limited minutes that he was aware of where he was as a player at this point in his career. He did not take shots that were beyond his reach, and he was active around the rim, getting putbacks and making the easy shots available to him.
There’s a lot to like about Smith with all this in mind. He seems to have a high basketball IQ and already has an idea of what kind of player he is and who he can be. As with Reed Nikko, the tutelage he’ll receive from big-man whisperer Chris Hollender in the coming year(s) could accelerate his game, and we could get an idea of what the ceiling is for Mitchell, which even in limited time looked intriguing.
If Mizzou should land a big man in the coming weeks, ensuring that the burden of filling the middle does not fall primarily on Smith and Nikko’s shoulders can only be a good thing for their development.
Get well, Mitchell, we’re looking forward to what you can do in the future.
When Mitchell went down with an ACL injury, it was a fairly big disappointment — obviously for Smith and for Mizzou, but also for many of us who wanted to see Smith get more opportunities to play.
There’s no mistaking Smith’s deficiencies. He’s incredibly thin and struggles to gain weight and strength. If he can spend his rehab time finding a way to add weight and strength, you have to believe Smith can realize his ceiling.
Mitchell Smith runs like a gazelle and has a feathery soft touch with the ball in his hands, two very big plusses for a big man. You can see his touch with his mid-range jump shot. I’d love to be able to say more but the reality of Smith’s injury is that we were cut short on the Mitchell Smith experience.
Hopefully he gets healthy, gets in the weight room and finds a way to be an impactful player in the near future.
Two games against big-name teams pretty much defined Mitchell Smith’s ceiling and floor in late-2016. Against Arizona, we got a decent-sized hint of what he could become. He scored five points on three shots, grabbed a couple of defensive rebounds, and blocked a shot in 15 minutes against Arizona, and his mid-first-half dunk sparked a mini-run when Mizzou was flailing.
Then there was the Illinois game. In a single minute, he committed two fouls and a turnover and went back to the bench. It was almost literally the worst minute a player can have; all it was missing was a missed dunk or a second turnover.
Smith obviously didn't get many chances to show much, but his 10-for-17 shooting was a pretty good example of him playing under control, and his 21 percent defensive rebound rate was easily the best on the team. If he can get into the 225- or 230-pound range, he'll still be skinny as hell, but I think that would minimize his weakness enough to utilize his strengths.
He's clearly still pretty raw, but Chris is right — there's obvious potential here, and his IQ seems high. He just needs reps so that we can figure out if his ceiling is "10-minute energy guy" or something greater.