Pitino praises freshman Donovan Mitchell

By on November 11, 2015

By Dalton Ray–

Incoming freshman Donovan Mitchell has created quite a buzz before even stepping on campus. Head Coach Rick Pitino said Mitchell has the talent of former Cardinal great Terrence Williams with the character of national champion Peyton Siva.

“When I went to watch him play, I fell in love with the way he played the game and how he carried himself,” Pitino said. “I watched him a couple more times, and I loved his athleticism and the way he leads. I spoke to him on the phone and realized he had a character like Peyton. Then on his visit he reconfirmed all my thoughts. This is a special man on and off the court, and we are very excited to have him.”

The 6-foot-3 guard hails from Greenwich, Connecticut and is a standout athlete. His vertical leap might make other players jealous as he seamlessly hovers to the basket. His speed, size and aggressiveness make him a great defender.

His highest ranking came from Scout.com at 17th and claimed him to be the second best shooting guard in the class. ESPN, Rivals.com and 247sports all put him in their top 45.

The team will look to Mitchell to contribute this year, but know he doesn’t have to carry the load just yet.

“I just know my role. You have to follow in order to lead later on, so just being able to see what the older guys are doing and follow their role. I just want to contribute on whatever plays I can, and I know I can contribute on defense, which is why I’m here.”

Pitino has mentioned that he loves the way Mitchell leads, but the freshman is looking to others for leadership right now. He sees both of the team’s point guards as good but different leaders.

“Trey is really one of the best leaders I have ever been around,” Mitchell said. “He just has that way about him that you just want to follow him. He has great energy. Everyday in practice he just wants to make every body better and keep everybody happy. Q (Quinton Snider) is more quiet but leads by example. He’s able to find the open spots, which is big.”

Playing NCAA basketball as a freshman isn’t easy. It can be difficult to develop new chemistry with teammates and adjust to the higher level of play. Mitchell said the games in Puerto Rico really eased the transition.

“It helped a lot. Playing against pros for seven or eight games really did. We knew our roles. Now we’re one big family.”

Although Mitchell’s biggest strength and contribution this year will be on defense, he has the ability to score. With his top-level athleticism, he can get to the basket and pull away on the fast break. But he can also hit the open three and even take advantage in midrange.

“It starts all on defense, rebounding the ball too,” Mitchell explained. “I can’t focus too much on scoring, but making the extra pass and doing the little things to go out and try and make an impact on every play possible.”

Mitchell said he wants to bring an unselfish attitude to the team. With his leadership and character, Mitchell is set to be a fan-favorite for years to come.

 

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-2018) that is technically award winning.Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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