As basketball season quickly approaches, the Blue Zone takes a detailed look at Duke men’s basketball’s 2022-23 roster, with a preview of each player. Previously, we’ve highlighted Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Max Johns, Kale Catchings, Ryan Young, Christian Reeves, Jaylen Blakes, Jaden Schutt and Tyrese Proctor. Here is Mark Mitchell:
Last year’s statline: N/A
Game breakdown: Finishing as the 22nd-ranked recruit and third-ranked power forward in his class, Mark Mitchell is set to immediately contribute to the Blue Devils in a significant manner.
The 19-year-old has a powerful frame that allows him to work defenders in the paint and get to the rim with ease. The combination of great length, incredible athleticism and a high motor will allow Mitchell to be a versatile wing that head coach Jon Scheyer is able to deploy in any situation. At ACC Tipoff in early October, Scheyer harped on Duke’s identity being built on the defensive end. Mitchell will be an important piece towards this goal, as he is a strong defender in every situation.
Playing his senior season at basketball powerhouse Sunrise Christian Academy, Mitchell averaged 17.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting .487 from the floor, all while playing alongside a star-studded lineup that included three other ESPN top-100 recruits in the class of 2022.
Though his accuracy from distance is yet to be proven, Mitchell’s prowess inside the arc will make him a valuable asset early in the season.
Role on the team: With forward Dariq Whitehead set to miss some contests to begin the 2022-23 campaign due to injury, Mitchell should see an elevated role for the time being. While Whitehead is out, it seems likely Mitchell will slide into a forward slot alongside fellow freshman Kyle Filipowski. Getting these early minutes could be very beneficial for the Kansas City, Kan., native to refine his game and adapt to the college level.
Once Whitehead returns, however, Mitchell will likely find himself in a competition with Filipowski for the final starting spot. Although he is the lower-ranked recruit of the two, Mitchell could get the nod if he impresses during his time on the floor while Whitehead is sidelined.
Regardless of whether the 6-foot-8 forward is on the floor at tipoff or if he comes on as a substitute, Mitchell will have an important role for the Blue Devils. He is a talented two-way player who can provide defense or score points. Scheyer has a utility tool that he can trust in Mitchell.
NBA comparison: Mitchell has the typical build and playstyle of a number of professional forwards, a prominent reason why he has the potential to be a future first-round pick. One player he especially resembles, however, is Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam. Both players stand at 6-foot-8 and make their presence felt on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, Siakam has excelled at the professional level thanks to his ability to get to the rim and create looks in the post, two attributes Mitchell is expected to show at Duke. The Raptors forward is not an outstanding marksman from distance, but he is able to make his offensive impact felt in other ways, just as Mitchell will look to do this season if his shot is not always falling. Perhaps the biggest similarity comes on the other end of the floor, where Mitchell and Siakam both provide versatility and excellence as defenders. The Blue Devils will be hard to stop if their young forward is able to resemble Siakam, a two-time All-NBA player.
Projected stats: 9.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 21 MPG
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