Ohio State freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been declared eligible and will make his season debut on Saturday against Kentucky, according to a release from the school. The 6-foot-8 Mitchell is a consensus top-150 prospect in the Class of 2015 and should give the young and depleted Buckeyes a boost this season.
“Ohio State freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been declared eligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center and will be available to play Saturday vs. Kentucky in New York,” Ohio State vice president and director of athletics Gene Smith said in the release. “The efforts of the NCAA staff to bring this to closure is greatly appreciated.”
A native of Texas, Mitchell is a very skilled passer and can run some point forward. This should help the struggling Buckeyes, who have seen inconsistent play from point guards JaQuan Lyle and A.J. Harris early this season. It’s hard to say how prepared Mitchell will be to impact the college game, but he was a decorated high school player and he’s been allowed to practice with Ohio State while waiting on the NCAA.
At the very least, he should help move the ball and provide some minutes.
Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, Memphis coach Josh Pastner’s local recruiting efforts are paying off, Mickey Mitchell, Ohio State and the rare re-commitment and Jalen Brunson’s impact on Big East recruiting.
Josh Pastner moves recruits around to make it work at Memphis
Both Lawsons are committed to Memphis as their father, Keelon Sr., was hired as an assistant coach there this past summer. Moving Dedric to the 2015 class is an interesting move for the Tigers — and probably the right move — because K.J. and Dedric have always played together both on their high school team and with Team Penny in the EYBL.
It gives the brothers, and Memphis, more stability going forward by keeping them together and the duo makes for an enticing and talented pair to put with Tiger target and five-star center Skal Labissiere. Memphis is believed to be a major player for Labissiere, and with the center’s potential one-and-done aspirations, it makes the Tigers more attractive if both Lawson brothers could be there to play with him.
But that isn’t the only way head coach Josh Pastner is moving pieces around. Notice how Memphis commit Nick Marshall moved from the 2015 class to the 2016 class when he committed last month? As a local center with upside, Memphis obviously wants Marshall in the fold, but Labissiere plays the same position and is also a member of the 2015 class. By getting Marshall to do an extra prep year, now more playing time opens up for Labissiere and there won’t be any kind of conflict. Josh Pastner is doing big things with local prospects and Memphis could have one of the best 2015 classes in the country if Labissiere decides to join the Lawson brothers.
Mickey Mitchell, Ohio State and the rare re-commitment
Although we’ve seen re-commits the last few recruiting cycles with James Blackmon going back to Indiana and Myck Kabongo re-upping his commitment with Texas, often when a player moves on from a school he committed to, he isn’t coming back.
In the case of Mitchell, the Class of 2015 6-foot-7 forward with great passing skills is back on board at Ohio State after a positive official visit last weekend. The No. 91 overall player in the 2015 class opted to open things up once his football-playing brother left the Ohio State football program in favor of Texas Tech, but the Buckeyes did a nice job of getting him back in the fold after in-state forward Esa Ahmad pledged to West Virginia.
Head coach Thad Matta and Ohio State made a hard push for Mitchell and got it done. Decommitments are often just trying to be recruited hard when they decide to open things up and the Buckeye staff made sure they let Mitchell know that he was wanted back in Columbus.
But Brunson’s commitment on Wednesday also meant a huge recruiting victory for the Big East, which now gains a McDonald’s All-American candidate and one of the best guards in the country.
The conference now boasts a major five-star player in the class to round out two more commits currently in Rivals‘ top 50 in the 2015 class — Jessie Govan to Georgetown and Justin Patton to Creighton.
The conference is still very much behind some other leagues like the ACC and Big Ten in number of top-50 prospects, but the league also has a eight overall commits of top-150 players and should get more before the end of the November signing period.
If the basketball-only league wants to have a shot at sticking with the BCS football leagues on the hardwood Big East schools have to land high-end players and commitments like Brunson’s certainly help.
Thursday night Mitchell announced via Twitter that he has re-committed to Thad Matta’s program, rejoining guards A.J. Harris and Austin Grandstaff and center Daniel Giddens in the Buckeyes’ 2015 recruiting class.
After short consideration, The Ohio State University is the only place for me, staff & players are family. Can't wait to get back! GO BUCKS!
Mitchell’s a player who can fit in at both forward positions for the Buckeyes, and that’s key when taking into consideration the fact that they missed out on forward Esa Ahmad. Ahmad verbally committed to West Virginia on Wednesday.
Ohio State will lose athletic guard/forward Sam Thompson at the end of the 2014-15 season but they’ve got young talent at the forward positions as well. In addition to sophomore Marc Loving the Buckeyes have freshmen Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate at the forward spots, and adding Mitchell to the equation gives Ohio State more depth (and talent) at those positions.
In fact, Grandstaff said, Mitchell will be making an official visit, meaning almost all of his expenses, including air fare and hotel, will be paid by coach Thad Matta’s program. Grandstaff and Mitchell had planned before Mitchell’s decommitment to visit the campus together this weekend.
“He hasn’t taken Ohio State off his list or anything,” said Grandstaff, who committed to the Buckeyes in May after taking his official visit to campus.
Quite often then a player reopens his recruitment he’ll say that the school that lost his pledge is still being considered, but it’s rare to have them arrive at the same decision. Will that be the case for Mitchell? That remains to be seen, but to get Mitchell on campus (with Grandstaff and another commit in point guard A.J. Harris) likely means exactly what Grandstaff said in the quote above.
Entering the fall there aren’t many programs who have enjoyed as much early success in recruiting the Class of 2015 as Ohio State, with the Buckeyes entering Thursday with four verbal commitments. However Thad Matta’s program lost one of those commitments Thursday evening, with four-star combo forward Mickey Mitchell making public his decision to de-commit from Ohio State.
I have officially decommitted from The Ohio State University and I would like to thank their coaching staff for recruiting me.
Mitchell was the second player to verbally commit to Ohio State, doing so last August with point guard A.J. Harris being the Buckeyes’ first 2015 verbal commitment. Baylor, Texas and Florida were among the schools recruiting Mitchell at the time of his commitment to Ohio State, and one would have to assume that many high-major programs will look to get back into the mix with Mitchell back on the board.
Mickey’s decision to de-commit comes a couple months after older brother Mike, who was a linebacker on the Ohio State football team, decided to transfer to Texas Tech. Mickey will be a senior at Plano West HS this season, and the 6-foot-7 forward’s athleticism and skill level are two reasons why he’s developed into one of the better front court prospects in the country.
As for what Ohio State does in the aftermath of Mitchell’s decision, with the program still in the running for both Esa Ahmad and Carlton Bragg those recruitments take on even greater importance for the Buckeyes.
Ball Is Life released a mixtape for Mickey Mitchell, a top 75 recruit in the Class of 2015 from Texas. Mitchell is currently committed to Ohio State.
Two summers ago, Mitchell was a top five recruit in the class, but the 6-foot-6 point forward — and quarterback — tore his ACL and missed his sophomore season in both sports. That dropped him a bit in the rankings, but it wasn’t enough to scare away Thad Matta and the Buckeyes.