The term hard work may sometimes be misconstrued.
Hammering stones in the heat of the day for hours on in without purpose- that might be considered hard work. Tossing fallen branches and tree logs from the curbside into the back of a several thousand pound machine after a devastating hurricane- that might also qualify.
But hard work isn't just defined by the level of stress or strain endured physically. There are people who sit at a desk in front of a box who will tell you that they work hard too.
But if the old cliché holds truth, then there are some people that go through life not having to work hard at all because they love what they do.
Bixby (OK) basketball star Mitchell Solomon learned from a young age that no matter what it is one chooses to do in life, he must work hard to become the best. But if you ask Solomon if he is working hard at his job, he will probably tell you that he's just doing what he loves to do.
Solomon, a 6-foot-9 220-pound power forward, is one of the hottest names in basketball recruiting across the country holding offers from schools in the Big-12, to the ACC, to the AAC. But, if you had a conversation with him you probably wouldn't know it.
With a mellow even keeled persona, Solomon has consistently torn up the AAU basketball stage and left a lasting impression on any onlookers he's performed against. From former basketball players to NCAA coaches and fans across the Midwest, he has made jaws drop in awe. He, however, prefers to keep his mouth wide shut.
"I guess rather than run my mouth or say things I can't back up I guess I kind of just let my skills do the talking," Solomon said.
Though one might not here too many words come from the 16-year-old's mouth, his attitude speaks loud and clear. He wants to be the best.
Solomon was raised along with his two younger brothers by his father and mother. Solomon was taught by his father Andy, a business owner, to be the best at whatever he decided to put his efforts toward and the young man took that lesson to heart.
"What I've tried to instill into him is that whether it's business, basketball or whatever, there are no excuses; you've got to go to work," Andy said. "To us, not so much that being number two is not good enough, we just believe that you are capable (of being the best)."
Not only has Solomon proved himself to be one of the best young basketball players, but he has also been exceptional inside the classroom.
On his very first attempt, Solomon scored a remarkable 27 out of 36 on the ACT. That score places him in the upper echelon of high school students as a whole and undoubtedly ranks him near the top when compared to other student athletes around the country.
Going into his final year of schooling, Solomon will be graduating from the engineering division of his high school.
Although the athlete believes that as he progresses he will someday possess the potential to play basketball at the highest level, he knows that he won't be able to play forever. That is why in order for a university to be seriously considered, they must possess an engineering program.
"Once I'm done with college, even if I do end up in the NBA, I'm going to have to have something to come back to," Solomon said. "Education definitely means a lot to me."
At age 16, Solomon enjoys many of the things that normal teenagers do. When off the court and out of the classroom he enjoys hanging out with friends and lounging around the house.
Because of his youthfulness, rumors have started to spread hinting that the Class of 2014 athlete may be considering reclassifying.
Solomon, who currently has 18 scholarships to pick from says having another year to develop his game would indubitably help him at the next level, but with the amount of opportunities he already possesses, he doesn't think it will be necessary. Solomon's dad agrees wholeheartedly.
"We would probably be leaning more towards that direction if he didn't have the options he has now," his dad said. "There are so many strong schools wanting him to come to their program that I just don't see that happening."
Solomon's coach Rod Thompson is under the belief that although another year would help him, Solomon possesses a skillset that is polished enough already for the collegiate level.
"He can really spot up and shoot and in the post he's very skilled," Thompson said. "He's the type of guy that's going to run off of a flush screen and make four in a row and then the next time down run to the block, feel his guy and give him the left hand jump hook (or) right hand jump hook."
Solomon, who just recently picked up an offer from SMU, says that he has not had much contact with the coaching staff and has yet to take a real in-depth look at the program. At this point he characterizes his interest level as low.
Big 12 programs Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are the schools Solomon says he is most interested in at this point. The young athlete, who will be making an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend, plans on making his college decision in November but that timeline is tentative.
For now, Solomon plans to continue to be a cool, calm, soft-spoken, 16-year-old boy, hanging out with friends when he can and working hard in the gym. Better yet, doing what he loves to do.
Check out his film from GASO:
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