San Diego State Freshman Matt Mitchell Expects To Make An Impact At San Diego State
San Diego State freshman Matt Mitchell should contend for the Mountain West Freshman of the Year.
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Matt Mitchell might be favored over Brandon McCoy for Mountain West Freshman of the Year.
I was on Twitter on Saturday when I saw a tweet come across my timeline that made me, as an Aztec fan, extremely excited.
The Mesa has been lively and enthusiastic with Aztecs football about to start and the basketball team racking up recruits, with even more news around the horizon. Sometimes you get caught up in the excitement and the homer hat goes on.
That is why this tweet from respected skills trainer Clint Parks stood out. Parks has trained a number of NBA players like Kawhi Leonard, Tony Snell, and Kyle Kuzma, among others. Having him say it rather than just some random fan gets my attention.
I understand that Brandon McCoy will likely be named the pre-season Mountain West Freshman of the Year. As a five-star McDonald’s All-American the hype behind him will get one that distinction in the Mountain West every time. But will he really be best freshman in the conference?
Looking at the two it is a lot closer between them than many in the conference, outside of San Diego, may believe.
Let me make the case for both:
McCoy is a 7-foot big man who uses his strength to dominate both ends of the court. Defensively he owns the paint. He is a high-level shot blocker and rebounder. Offensively he is an aggressive finisher down low and uses his big body to get position either for a put-back or to post up his defender.
The problem I see is that McCoy depends too much on his physical ability to be dominant. In college he may not be able to physically impose his will on players like he did in high school.
When he is unable to bully his way in the paint he depends too much on his jump shot, which is not consistent. Also, regardless of what you have seen in all-star games and team USA games and contrary to what my fellow writers think he does not run the floor well. It is the first thing that stood out when watching him in high school and was something that was an issue in every single game that I saw, which was more than just a couple of times.
On the other hand you have Mitchell who has a chance to be the impact freshman in this conference! Recruiting sites get hung up about his ranking because he blossomed over this past year and they take into account the player that he was, not the one he is now.
The player he is now is a two-way player that impacts the game on both ends of the court. On offense Mitchell is a scorer that can get to the paint and score in traffic as well as pull up for a jumper anywhere on the court. Defensively he is relentless, constantly pressuring his opponent to make the wrong decision and then taking advantage.
One thing that may stop Mitchell from being the Mountain West Freshman of the Year is something that is out of his control; minutes. It is assumed that the Aztecs will start a three-guard lineup with Devin Watson, Jeremy Hemsley, and Trey Kell. With three veterans ahead of him, getting playing time may be one of his biggest obstacles. Looking at his game there are not a lot of glaring holes.
He’s not a superior athlete or extremely fast, however do not get me wrong, he is not slow or lumbering, just not what you would call a freak athlete. Also, he is not great at one thing, rather very good at almost everything.
Preseason awards are fun and they are the only ones won on paper; the end of the year awards will be earned on the court. I have a lot of questions that need to be answered before I can pick my Mountain West Freshman of the Year. Among those are:
Has McCoy improved his jump shot? Will Mitchell be a high-level scorer in college like he was in high school? Can McCoy dominate Mountain West big men like he did high school big men? Will Mitchell see the floor enough to be a difference maker?
Based on what I know and what I have seen this will be a close race, closer than what many people believe. There is a justifiable reason for San Diego State fans to be excited. Whether you are for Mitchell or McCoy or somebody else, it is fair to say that the Mountain West seems to be getting better. The league is seeing an influx of talent and it will be interesting to see if they have taken enough steps in the non-conference to be a multi-bid league once again.