How Do You Spell Relief?

At Rutgers, it's spelled: J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N - M-I-T-C-H-E-L-L. By choosing RU as his new home, the former Florida Gator has made the disappointment most Rutgers fans expect to feel from another recruiting war much more bearable. We'll see what happens in that one, but if RU fans are going to need to let go, this makes it a whole lot easier.

Rutgers didn't have this before. Before, if Rutgers lost a big recruiting war (which it used to do far more frequently before Fred Hill got here), it could only leave its fans with hurt and disappointment. Now it can provide a very nice buffer, a much softer landing from a potentially bad fall.

With the announcement that he's transferring to Rutgers, Jonathan Mitchell, Mt Vernon native and 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year in New York State, has made it much easier for Rutgers fans to sing that old Doris Day hit "Que sera sera", should Devin Ebanks decide to go elsewhere, as expected.

"Good things are going to happen", is what Mitchell's coach at Mt Vernon Bob Cimmino, said about his former star's decision to become a Scarlet Knight. "He's a very hard worker. He'll be bringing a lot of experience. He's bigger, he's stronger, and Rutgers is really going to benefit from that."

Coach Cimmino did not seem particularly concerned about what position Mitchell will eventually wind up playing at Rutgers, stating: "I'm not really locked into the numbers for positions. Players find a way to play. Jonathan is a player, and he's looking for minutes, and he'll know what he has to do".

With all of the focus on Ebanks, now that Mitchell is in the fold, RU fans can begin to assess and appreciate what Mitchell will be bringing to the table: a tremendous work ethic, talent, leadership, and a desire to prove something. Cimmino added that Mitchell understands there are no guarantees at RU, and that he will not be outworked by any of his new teammates: "Talent is only a part of the game. Hard work and attitude are what is most important, and those are the main things that Jonathan brings".

Cimmino added that Mitchell made the honor roll at Florida, and then said that "with Mike Coburn and now Jonathan, Rutgers will have two of the best people and best basketball players ever at Mt Vernon". I asked him to corroborate what I had heard, that the storied program has never had two kids the same school. He said: "We've had kids go on to the same junior college, but yes, this will be the first time that we've ever had two at the same division 1 school".

That's quite a distinction for Rutgers to now have. When he mentioned Mike Coburn, he piqued my interest for his thoughts on how he felt Mike's first year on the Banks went. He said: "The way things went for him, I couldn't have scripted it any better – aside from wins and losses", and then added that "If you had to chart it, you'd rather get that bad year out of the way first ".

"I think", he went on, "that as Coburn goes, so goes Rutgers. He does it in the classroom, he does it on the court. He's been a man already for many years. Where Rutgers is heading, he'll be steering the ship. I'm 51, and I trust him more than most friends my age".

Mitchell will unfortunately have to sit this year out, but will then have two years left to play, and he'll have Mike Coburn with him. They'll play their last two years in college together as teammates at Rutgers. They should be memorable ones.

One last thing: aside from being a very nice pick-up that greatly eases the potential blow from Ebanks, this is a player that Seton Hall really wanted. (They actually finished third in this battle, as Marshall came in second.) Right now Freddie is kicking Bobby's butt on the recruiting trail.

So today we've landed a really nice player who, when eligible, will step in and be ready to contribute immediately (while practicing with the team and still helping us this year), and we win another recruiting battle against Seton Hall.

That means that even if we find out that Devin Ebanks isn't coming, it will still be a huge net gain for us – by far. My, have things changed for the better around here.


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