A new era of Duke men's basketball is on the horizon, and with it comes an almost entirely new roster. In this series, the Blue Zone analyzes film on each of the Blue Devils' new signees and transfers for the 2022-23 season. We previously looked at Kale Catchings, Ryan Young and Jaden Schutt. Next, let’s take a look at Mark Mitchell:
It’s been well-documented just how stacked Duke’s incoming class is, and an undeniable part of that comes from the addition of five-star, 6-foot-8 power forward Mark Mitchell.
The Sunrise Christian product ended his senior season as the 22nd-best recruit nationally and third-best positionally in the 2022 class. Though perhaps not as physically imposing as some of his teammates—e.g. the 6-foot-10 Kyle Filipowski and 7-foot-1 Dereck Lively II—Mitchell brings solid fundamentals, a lethal left hand and killer instinct in the post to head coach Jon Scheyer’s new-look Blue Devils.
Mitchell’s explosive jumps and long arms make him an easy target for fast breaks and plays under the basket. This is helped by his acute positional awareness and ability with both hands, making him a reliable outlet from inside and, occasionally, from beyond. Though, one thing to note is his three-point shooting is not yet a certified strength.
But, speaking of strengths, none were more clearly exemplified than in his 19-point showing at the 2022 McDonald’s All-American Game. Take a look as he receives the ball near the free-throw line and muscles his way to the rim, switching hands for the lay-in finish.
This is a type of play Mitchell makes often. Catch a pass near, but not next to, the rim. Shrug off a defender with clever dribbling or pure strength. Then pull up for a jumper or put-in with whichever hand is more readily available. He’s a natural lefty, which is unique in itself and will give Scheyer versatility in handling tight, tall defenses in and around the paint.
In the following clip, Mitchell does exactly what he does best: back his defender up to the hoop and then spin for the easy left-hander. His post dominance is a unique and useful asset, and his knack for getting by defenders in the paint should be exciting in this young Duke team.
Mitchell isn’t just a competent scorer, though. He’s an intelligent playmaker and a skillful passer with a keen eye for open teammates. In one of Duke’s summer scrimmages, we got to see this part of his game highlighted especially well, with a number of incisive and unselfish passes to the likes of Lively and Jaden Schutt (below).
Like many of his freshman teammates, Mitchell is a well-rounded and intelligent player with exceptional skill around the post and a unique ability with both hands. His shooting from deep could use some honing, but as the strong, athletic power forward that Duke has been in need of, he’ll be an exciting one to watch.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.