Tony Mitchell’s return makes North Texas a potential top 25 team

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North Texas forward Tony Mitchell will reportedly return to the Sun Belt school for his sophomore season.

Mitchell is one of the more intriguing stories in college basketball. A 6-foot-9 forward, Mitchell was a top 20 recruit coming out of high school, but he failed to get academically eligible at Missouri. He ended up having to sit out a year-and-a-half before finally becoming eligible at North Texas on Dec. 17th.

Mitchell wound up averaging 14.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks for the Mean Green as they advanced all the way to the Sun Belt title game. He led the conference in during league play in scoring (15.9), rebounding (11.8) and blocked shots (3.1) and had at least 18 points and 15 boards in a game five times. While it is easy to assume that those numbers are based entirely on the level of competition that Mitchell faced, keep in mind that he was a member of the U-19 national team last summer.

He would have likely been a first round pick had he decided to enter the draft this year.

But with the decision to return, he becomes a player to keep an eye on. Remember, the numbers that he put up this year came after he sat out for a year-and-a-half. What kind of player can he develop into with a full offseason of training within a program?

The bigger question is how good can North Texas be? The answer: very … IF things play out the right way.

Jordan Williams and Chris Jones, two members of head coach Johnny Jones’ lauded recruiting class, were ruled academically ineligible in the middle of the season and missed the last 13 games. Jones was averaging 14.1 ppg at the time while Williams was averaging 10.5 ppg. With junior-to-be Alzee Williams also back, along with Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin, the Mean Green have a core that is worthy of top 25 consideration. Throw in Grambling transfer Justin Patton and, well, UNT is a couple of favorable breaks away from being one of the nation’s most dangerous mid-major teams.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.