WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Freshmen Donovan Mitchell and Rich Washington have yet to see the floor in conference play this season for the Deacs.
Washington played in five early-season games for a total of 13 minutes, while Mitchell has only played twice for a total of three minutes.
Meanwhile, Danny Manning’s squad seems to have found their groove. They just secured their second ACC road victory and are firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble according to all major projections.
Manning is locked in an seven-to-10 player rotation, with Doral Moore, Greg McClinton and freshman Sam Japhet-Mathias securing the bottom three slots. The other seven in the rotation average between 20 and 32 minutes in conference play, including freshman Brandon Childress.
Mitchell and Washington were both three-star prospects, but they are just two of more than a dozen highly-touted freshman who haven’t seen much action in the ACC this season.
“You can look at the list of freshmen that were considered the best players in the country last year, that don’t play,” Manning said yesterday when asked about Mitchell and Washington. “It is what it is. They have to learn. They’re freshmen. They’re getting better. I’m excited about them, but they have to get better.”
The improvement must be across the board, Manning said.
“That’s all-encompassing. It’s getting better in the weight room. It’s getting better with your skill set,” Manning said. “It’s getting better with handling the rigors of college. It’s getting better about handling the transition. It’s all of the above.
“Those guys, we’re happy with them. They’re doing a good job of helping us out this year. Big picture wise, this conversation comes up, but look across the country and see how many freshman are playing. Go back across the country and see how many of the ‘5-star’ freshmen aren’t playing.”
There are 10 other ACC freshmen who are similar to Mitchell and Washington in terms of playing time, and a total of 16 other frosh who have less than 100 minutes of conference play.
Clemson - Scott Spencer (3-star) - 0 minutes
Boston College - Mike Sagay - 5 minutes
Duke - Javin DeLaurier (4-star) - 7 minutes
North Carolina - Shea Rush - 7 minutes
Miami - Rodney Miller (4-star) - 9 minutes
Georgia Tech - Christian Matthews (3-star) - 10 minutes
Duke - Jack White (3-star) - 11 minutes
North Carolina State - Darius Hicks (3-star) - 16 minutes
Pittsburgh - Corey Manigault (3-star) - 31 minutes
North Carolina - Brandon Robinson (4-star) - 49 minutes
So while fans have wondered often why Washington and Mitchell haven’t played more this season, their situation is hardly abnormal — there’s a lot of future talent sitting on benches this season across the conference.
“You get to college, and you have guys that have been there three and four years that have put in their time, and they’re maximizing,” Manning said. “That’s what college athletics is all about.”