Most New York City high school players dream about competing inside Madison Square Garden, a facility that is considered the most holy of playground shrines. Jonathan Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 junior forward from Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, New York is no different. He had the pleasure of competing on Sunday afternoon against one of the country's top junior forwards -- Curtis Kelly of Rice High School.
Mitchell and his Mount Vernon teammates knew they had a formidable challenge in front of them. While Rice took this round, 64-55, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound power forward showed his resiliency against a difficult opponent in front of a good-sized crowd inside basketball's great playground.
Mitchell scored 17 points on 8-for-20 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds (seven on the offensive glass) in the loss on Sunday. His match-up with Kelly was an interesting subplot in a game that pitted two nationally ranked teams against one another. In typical workman-like fashion, Mitchell accumulated many of his points in close, using his toughness and strength to bull his way around the paint. At times, he struggled to match Kelly's quickness when the two matched up, particularly in situations where he tried to put the ball on the floor and drive by him, but he gave an honest effort on both ends on this day.
Jon continues to expand and hone his game, and is pretty dangerous from around 16 feet on in. He uses the window with aplomb, has good footwork and quick feet, and is a handful on the low block with his strength. The lefty is physical, hits the glass hard, and a willing defender in the post. He has great hands and good foot speed for a big guy. He has the ability now to shake his defender with his dribble. As he becomes more comfortable in going right with is drives, Mitchell will become even more dangerous offensively.
College coaches at the highest level like this package of skills, and what the junior might become at the next level.
Mitchell said he does not have a leader in his recruiting process. He will likely set up a couple of trips in the spring. Kansas is being considered for one of the visits. This site will keep you posted on how he progresses this season. Mitchell is highly rated by Scout.com.
"I don't know where I want to visit yet, but I want to take them in April," said Mitchell.Jon recently reached the 1,000-point mark faster than any player in Mount Vernon history. This is no small accomplishment, considering the program's tradition, and the number of Division I players who have passed through, including a couple of pros.
"It's a great accomplishment because very few players have (scored 1,000 points)," said Mitchell.
Jon starred with the Metro Hawks on the AAU circuit last summer, and turned in a solid performance at the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis last July. The strong-bodied workhorse is one of New York's best in the class of 2006.