FGCU currently has a bit of a problem in their front court. With forward Demetris Morant sidelined until January with an injury, and Antravious Simmons ineligible until the second semester, redshirt sophomore transfer Kevin Mickle might provide an answer for the Eagles.
Mickle is a 6-foot-7, 220 lb. forward who hails from Brooklyn, NY. The big man played high school ball at St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey, which just so happens to be the same high school FGCU head coach Joe Dooley attended. While that similarity is purely coincidental, a similarity that Mickle shares with a current FGCU big man is one of the reasons the coaching staff pursued him.
It was assistant coach Mike Fly who first scouted him, and the comparison that he made to Marc-Eddy Norelia is one of the aspects of Mickle's game that caught his eye.
"He's seen some things in me that remind him of Marc-Eddy, and with that high motor that he sees in me," Mickle said. "I have a good shot, and I'm a real energy guy. He's seen that, and he thinks he can implement that into this organization."
With Morant and Simmons out for quite some time, FGCU has only three players that are 6-foot-7 are taller. There's a very good chance that Mickle is thrust right into the starting rotation by default. However, thanks to that high motor, he is prepared to take on a hefty role right off the bat.
One of Morant's greatest strengths came on the defensive end, where he led the Atlantic Sun in blocks. Mickle, while not being quite as long as Morant, is a shot-blocking threat too. Last season, he led his JuCo team in blocked shots with 48. Mickle attributes his keen defensive ability to a combination of his high basketball IQ and his motor.
"I'm really smart. I understand movements. I understand how to move, how to help. I'm very loud," he said. "Of course I bring that energy towards the table. I'm very athletic, very fast, and with that I can also block shots."
Last year, he attended Broward College, a JuCo school located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he started 29 games for the Seahawks. Mickle was a force to be reckoned with on the JuCo stage, averaging nearly 14 points and 10 rebounds per contest. As a big man with a smooth jumpshot, he led the Seahawks in shooting percentage at nearly 55-percent.
Mickle is athletic enough to get to the hoop, but his mid-range jumpshot is what makes him such a weapon on offense. His jumpshot will most certainly be used in FGCU's favor this year. With a smaller lineup to start the season, the Eagles will have no choice but to spread the floor out, and him making shots will be one of the keys to a successful start.
"I'm trying to grab a lot of attention being a good 17-foot shooter, so with that I can draw attention to myself so the guards can create more," Mickle said.
Despite the lack of size to start the season, Mickle praised the team's atheltic ability, saying how he loves the fast-paced style they're going to play at. FGCU is built to get out and run, and he emphasized how the athletes will need to just have fun and go out with the idea that they're going to try and execute on all their Dunk City style fast break attempts.
"We have a whole lot of great athletes. There's no one on this team that's not an athlete. We like to run. We like to throw the ball up, especially in practice," he said.
"If you stick around, you can see that," he added.
There's a lot to like about Mickle. Aside from what he brings to the court and on the bench in terms of play and energy, he carries himself with a humble attitude and a quiet confidence that stems from his upbringing. As someone with high character, he will certainly serve as an example to the younger players on how to carry themselves off the court.
Once he steps on the court, he will look to channel that quiet confidence into a competitive edge. Because of what Mickle has been through in his lifetime, it doesn't take a lot to get him engaged.
"It doesn't take a lot for me. Especially where I'm from, how I got here, the struggles I've been through, any little thing could put a fire to that," he said. "The thing with me, I really truly believe I have that deep fire within me that's burning."
With the Eagles first game scheduled for November 14 at Ohio University, it won't be long until Mickle can let that flame inside him burn like a wild fire.