Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
The Rutgers basketball now has someone with an NCAA championship ring.
Jonathan Mitchell, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound former Mr. New York State Basketball out of Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High, gave an oral commitment Saturday to Rutgers head coach Fred Hill.
Mitchell, who transferred from the University of Florida, will sit out the 2008-09 season as per NCAA transfer regulations.
He chose Rutgers over Seton Hall and Marshall, meaning Hill has won this recruiting round against in-state rival Bobby Gonzalez of Seton Hall.
“It came down to that’s where he felt most comfortable,” said Herb Mitchell, Jonathan’s uncle and a North Haledon, N.J. resident. “He felt comfortable with the players, the system, the coach and how they’re going to play him.”
The NCAA late signing period ends Wednesday and Mitchell is expected to sign a Letter of Intent by then.
Herb said that Hill is looking forward to coaching Mitchell, who won a national championship as a freshman with the Gators.
“Coach Hill is very excited,” Herb said. “He’s looking forward to making Jonathan the best player he possibly can be.”
Mitchell will join St. Anthony shooting guard and McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario, Brooklyn Boys & Girls wing Patrick Jackson, South Kent (Conn.) forward Christian Morris and potentially St. Benedict’s center Greg Echenique in an impressive incoming class for the Scarlet Knights. The 6-9 Echenique is waiting to hear from the NCAA Clearinghouse whether he will be eligible this season.
Mitchell is a versatile forward who possesses an inside-out game with the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, while rebounding well and finishing around the basket. At Florida, Mitchell had trouble finding a role and gaining minutes. He averaged 1.4 points as a freshman and 3.1 points and 1.8 rebounds off the bench as a sophomore. His best performance came in a Dec. 29 victory over Temple when he had 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and added four rebounds and an assist.
“Jon has maintained his workaholic status,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said. “He’s constantly in the gym, at the YMCA or an open gym at Mount Vernon. He just has a very positive outlook. He didn’t get the minutes he wanted in Florida but he has great experience under his belt. And now he’s coming home to the NY/NJ area and he has an oppportunity to play for one of the best coaches in the area. That was originally one of his choices and it’s a matter of getting reacclimated to the area and fitting in with his ex-teammate (and current Rutgers freshman) Mike Coburn.”
As for what position Mitchell might play, Cimmino said Mitchell just wanted to get on the court and would do whatever is necessary.”
“He knows how to play basketball,” the coach said. “He’ll go after the minutes and if he sees them at the four he’ll go for it there, and if he sees them at he three he’ll go for them there. He wants minutes.”
Mitchell initially chose Florida over Marquette, Virginia and Miami.
Herb said his nephew would have something to prove wherever he ended up.
“He’s got a chip on his shoulder right now,” Herb said. “He’s got a lot to prove.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.