With Duke’s season officially in the books, the Blue Zone breaks down each player's season, including comparisons to their preseason projections. We already looked at Jaylen Blakes, Jaden Schutt, Jacob Grandison and Ryan Young. Next up is Mark Mitchell:
This year’s statline: 9.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 27.1 MPG
The Blue Zone’s projected statline: 9.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 21 MPG
Season Breakdown: With five-star recruits Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead out to start the year, freshman Mark Mitchell was thrown into the fire on day one. The 6-foot-8 forward started out the year hot, scoring 18 and 13 points in his first two games as a Blue Devil. As expected, when Whitehead returned to the floor as a sixth man, Mitchell’s scoring output dropped.
Nevertheless, some of Mitchell’s best offensive games came playing alongside Whitehead. To beat Xavier 71-64, he poured in 16 points on 54.5% shooting, and in Madison Square Garden, Mitchell’s 17 points led Duke to a 74-62 victory against Iowa.
Truly, the Kansas City, Kan., native’s role on this roster was as an athletic defensive presence. As every Blue Devil fan could see in Duke’s 65-52 tournament loss to Tennessee, Mitchell’s absence due to a lower body injury played a significant role with the Volunteers’ Olivier Nkamhoua's offensive explosion. All in all, the freshman forward’s consistency was his strongest attribute: his length alone bothered opposing wings every game. In perhaps Mitchell’s most important defensive play, a chasedown block against a driving Boston College guard secured the Blue Devils’ nail-biting victory at Boston College.
After a successful year, Mitchell's future is up in the air.
Results relative to expectations: Although the Blue Zone aptly predicted Mitchell’s offensive output, his defensive abilities far exceeded expectations for head coach Jon Scheyer’s squad. Game by game, he was one of Duke’s most consistent defenders, and the freshman forward seemed to play his most impactful minutes as the calendar turned to March.
With the inevitable departure of a few Blue Devils this offseason, Scheyer will be hoping that Mitchell returns to play his sophomore year. By doing so, he will be one of the Duke's most important contributors come the 2023-24 season.
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