However it might have appeared, Charles Mitchell wants to offer Georgia Tech fans his assurance. He and former Yellow Jackets forward Robert Carter did not orchestrate the first-ever trade in college basketball when he chose to transfer to Tech from Maryland on June 12, six days after Carter did the opposite.
“It wasn’t a deal to set it like this,” Mitchell said recently, his tone revealing some amusement with the scenario. “Nothing like that happened.”
Nonetheless, the final addition to coach Brian Gregory’s 2014-15 roster should help fill the void left by the surprise transfer of Carter, whose 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game were third and first on the team, respectively. While Mitchell started only 10 of 32 games last season as a sophomore, he was one of the most effective rebounders in the ACC and plays with an energetic style.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound power forward from Wheeler High School, transferred to be closer to family and in particular his ailing grandmother. He picked Tech over Georgia.
A self-professed “garbageman,” basketball parlance for a player who gets his points by rummaging for rebounds and loose balls rather than have plays run for him, Mitchell’s willingness to play such a team-first role would serve well a group that will be integrating seven new players.
“He’s a high-energy guy, there’s no question about that,” Gregory said.
His energy has been most evident around the basket. Averaging 18.8 minutes per game last season, Mitchell was still 16th in the ACC in rebounds at 6.3 per game. His rate of one rebound per three minutes was second best of any player in the ACC top 20, after North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks. The basketball metrics website kenpom.com ranked Mitchell 12th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, which measures his offensive rebound collection compared to all available rebounds while he was on the floor.
Such tenacity helped him shoot 51.7 percent from the floor, a promising figure for a team that has continually struggled to create easy baskets in Gregory’s first three seasons. Mitchell did reportedly struggle with conditioning and last season had an in-game outburst that compelled coach Mark Turgeon to send him to the locker room. The two reconciled after the game.
“I’ll do anything to help my team,” Mitchell said. “My game has evolved around me just being an energy guy, just bringing motivation and the heart and will to win every game and help the team.”
Due to his grandmother’s health, the school has applied to the NCAA for a hardship waiver for Mitchell, hoping he will be granted immediate eligibility as guard Trae Golden did last year after he transferred from Tennessee to Tech to be closer to his ailing father. Gregory guessed the verdict may come back by the end of the summer. If he’s denied, Mitchell will have to sit out the coming season and then have two more years of eligibility.
“It’s more than just playing right away,” Mitchell said. “It’s building the whole team camaraderie and everything, getting it right into the next season, or whatever season I start to play.”
Mitchell said he was a good fit at Maryland and enjoyed his two seasons at the school, but felt called home. As for selecting Tech over Georgia, he said deciding factors were the proximity to home, familiarity with players and coaches and having grown up around the school. He said he scrimmaged at Tech’s practice facility daily during his summers in high school.
Mitchell declined to go into specifics regarding his grandmother, Ella Mitchell, who lives in southwest Atlanta and helped raise him along with his mother Harriett Mitchell. He did say her health is improving and that he talks with her and visits often.
“Just being here just helps them out a little more and helps me out a little, too,” he said.
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