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03/07/2013

The next Paul George may come from North Texas

Dallas_u_mitchell-01_mb_400In case you forgot about Tony Mitchell, he is still playing college basketball. This isn't a slam on Mitchell, rather to state the obvious - he is off the map. And for those of you who do know who Mitchell is, he told me on Wednesday he is not sure if he will turn pro after North Texas' basketball season ends.

Bet hard that he will, and that even after an ish second season at North Texas his background and atleticism say he can still be a high draft pick. His game, athleticism, and background look very similar to Indiana Pacrers All-Star forward Paul George.

Stay with me on this.

Mitchell is 6-foot-8, 235 and can jump.
George is 6-foot-8, 221 and can jump.  

No one knew who Paul George was when he left Fresno State, and now he is on the verge of becoming a franchise player for the Indiana Pacers..

George (6-8, 221) was the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. He, like Mitchell, played two college seasons, both at Fresno State. In his second year at FSU, the Bulldogs finished 15-18; George averaged 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. Paul George was a second-team all conference player.

Mitchell is finishing up his sophomore season at North Texas, and was just named to the Sun Belt conference second-team. He was the conference freshman of the year last season, after which he surprised just about everybody by returning to Denton for another year.

"I made a great decision to come back and help my teammates and get to a higher level," Mitchell told me. "I don't wish upon anything. I made the decision and I'm glad I'm in the predicament I'm in."

Paul-george.p1Not sure if Mitchell nailed the correct word choice but maybe he did, because there is a predicament feel to his situation.

When Mitchell left Dallas Pinkston high school he was the 12th ranked recruit in the nation and signed with Missouri. But he didn't make grades, and after an appeal to the NCAA didn't work out he opted to sit out his freshman year and enroll at North Texas.

Mitchell may have been a lottery pick after sitting out his first year. As a freshman, he averaged 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds; he and Kentucky's Anthony Davis were the only freshmen to average a double double.

A preseason All-American, Mitchell averaged 13.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game as a sophomore. Not the type of numbers people were expecting. People were thinking 19 and 10.

"My defense has developed and I've just matured as a person more," Mitchell sad. "I feel like I have developed at a decent rate. My numbers are down and that's just a fact. We had a lot of injuries this season. I'm just responsible and accountable. Coach tells me every day that once you handle your business off the court you can handle it on the court. 

It doesn't help Mitchell that UNT is 12-19 this season, and plays Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the first round of the conference tournament. 

Mitchell said he will talk to his family and coaches once the season is over to make up his mind.

I asked him who he compared, or modeled, his game after.

"I'd say a mix of Shawn Marion," he said, "and Paul George."

The similarities are endless.

 

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