Born on the West Coast and relocated to North Carolina, Shelton Mitchell's debut on the regional stage took place prior to his sophomore season. He first picked up an offer from Charlotte and then added South Carolina (Darrin Horn era), Missouri and Wake Forest.
He performed well at small Waxhaw (N.C.) Cuthbertson — averaging more than 20 points per game — and steadily began to build his reputation. He impressed on the 16-under circuit for CP3 during the 2012 travel circuit, acquiring offers from Clemson, Tennessee and Illinois and attracting interest from North Carolina, Duke, Texas, Washington, Miami, Texas and others.
That set the stage for a junior campaign in which he'd compete for additional major offers. He played his way into greater prominence at the High School OT Invitational that December, where he individually out-dueled McDonald's All-American senior Anthony Barber.
But just as his recruitment began to emanate increasing buzz, he pledged to Wake Forest just days after his breakthrough event.
Loyalty and persistence paid off for the Deacs:
"I picked Wake because they have been here from day one," Mitchell told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "Ever since I was a freshman they've said they were going to recruit me as hard as possible."
Mitchell is a true point guard, an old school distributor who relishes his role of quarterback. He possesses top-shelf court vision and is a creative, unselfish passer who racks up assists against even national competition.
The fact that he's a southpaw helps. Mitchell utilizes unorthodox angles to make post entry passes and to whip assists through traffic. He's particularly effective making hit-ahead passes and setting up the correct, easy play in transition. The more frequently he gets out on the break, the better he and his team will be.
He also has grown an inch to 6-3 and thus possesses a height advantage over most opponents. And while not yet especially strong, he has the naturally solid frame to become a muscular specimen once he participates in a college strength and conditioning program.
Mitchell's best scoring occurs off the dribble and close to the rim. Though not an electric finisher, he's highly effective lofting in short jumpers and runners off the backboard. He also uses the rim and backboard to shield his attempts from shotblockers.
He relies heavily on a stop-and-go dribble that works frequently due to his size and the feints he employs to sell it, and accordingly he's able to knife into the lane for those short jumpers and dump-offs.
A lack of blistering quickness and speed tops this list. Mitchell is more effective versus athletes as a passer than he is a penetrator or a scorer, at times becoming more peripheral than penetrating as a distributor.
That quickness issue manifests on defense as well. He can become a target for elite drivers who typically are shorter than him, making his containment job that much more difficult.
Moreover, Mitchell remains an inconsistent jump shooter. He has poured forth some big-time outings — such as the one versus Barber — but has something of a corkscrew motion and doesn't knock down shots consistently from deep. He fares better from medium-range, an area that will prove critical for him in Winston-Salem.
Mitchell is just the tonic a program experiencing turmoil requires. He brings a calm, steady hand to the court and should stabilize the club's offense against stingy and aggressive ACC defenses. He also projects to play alongside Codi Miller-McIntyre, and that duo should comprise one of the finest backcourt passing cores in the conference.
Obviously depending upon various contingencies, Mitchell feasibly could take the starting reigns as a junior in 2016-17. By then, he should have developed a legitimate college body and accumulated sufficient experience to run the show.
Wake's coaching staff has come under media assault lately, and that environment has placed increased pressure on the current roster to deliver. If the Deacs can hang on and make strides this season while Mitchell further develops at Oak Hill Academy, he should be able to step and provide immediate, stress-relieving contributions as a freshman in 2014-15.