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A Look At Mark Mitchell’s Progress

And considerable potential

Jacksonville v Duke
 DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 07: Kevion Nolan #3 of the Jacksonville Dolphins drives against Mark Mitchell #25 of the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 7, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 71-44.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

With the non-conference part of the schedule over, how is Mark Mitchell doing?

All things considered, pretty well.

Mitchell wasn’t the highest rated recruit in the class; actually he was fourth behind Dereck Lively, Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski.

He wasn’t supposed to start either and probably wouldn't have if Whitehead hadn’t suffered a foot injury.

He’s made the most of it though and has been a huge asset for Duke.

Offensively he’s been a bit up and down. In his last seven games, he’s scored 1, 16, 2, 3, 15, 17 and, most recently against Maryland Eastern Shore, two.

That’s not atypical for a freshman but given Duke’s reliance on freshmen, it is a potential problem. Time will likely take care of that though.

Even so, Mitchell has given Duke a significant surprise: with three point shooting being a weakness so far, Mitchell has excelled there, hitting 42.9 percent from outside. People have criticized his shot for having a low arc, but that’s kind of ridiculous. First, it’s highly effective, obviously. And second, he has a quick, tight form. When he shoots, he knows how to put it in the middle of the basket. His form is not as pretty as that of teammate Jaden Schutt, who has a classic shot, but it works just fine.

At 6-8, like fellow former Blue Devil Luol Deng, Mitchell appears to glide and, because of his length, looks slower than he really is.

But he is plenty quick and he has immense value on defense. Consider Notre Dame as an opponent: Mike Brey’s top players are Nate Laszewski (6-11), Dane Goodwin (6-6), Cormac Ryan (6-5), JJ Starling (6-4), Trey Wertz (6-5), Ven-Allen Lubin (6-8)and Marcus Hammond (6-4). You could potentially put Mitchell on any of those guys. For that matter, he could guard multiple guys on a single play.

With Whitehead rounding into form, Mitchell’s role is going to change. There’s no way around that. But it won't necessarily change in a bad way.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Whitehead’s return will allow Duke to use Mitchell more aggressively on defense. We’re not saying that anything like this would happen, but what Lute Olson did with Kenny Lofton at Arizona was fascinating: he used him to run the baseline in a 2-2-1 zone and Lofton completely shut down entry into the lane from the sides. It was amazing to watch.

It wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if Scheyer and his staff were spending time figuring out ways to use Mitchell on defense that most of us haven’t considered.

What we’re saying is that Duke has options. And as Mitchell continues to improve on offense, those options are going to expand considerably.

Not bad for the fourth best recruit in his class.