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.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jonathan Mitchell and Rashad Bishop aren’t on any mock draft boards and probably won’t be in the NBA next season.
In fact, before Thursday the two local players hadn’t even participated in a single NBA draft workout.
“People here probably don’t know my name today in the beginning of the workout,” the 6-foot-7 Mitchell said after he, Bishop and former Seton Hall standout Jeremy Hazell worked out for the Nets. “Hopefully at the end they kind of said, ‘Who was that kid?'”
Mitchell, a former New York State Mr. Basketball out of Mount Vernon High School, was a solid college player at Rutgers, where he averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds as a senior.
He was at Sports University in Fairfield, N.J., when he received a call Wednesday from his agent about his first NBA workout.
“Oh, I mean I was so excited because I get to work out for the New Jersey Nets, Jersey kid, New Yorker,” Mitchell said. “It was just a pleasure and honor to be here today.”
Mitchell hoped to just show Nets officials, including head coach Avery Johnson, what he can bring.
“I just bring in a worker’s mentality every day, bringing my hard hat,and leaving it all out there on the floor because I don’t have the big name,” Mitchell said. “My stock can’t drop, so I’m just going out there and doing the best I can.”
Nets general manager Billy King did a good deed by bringing Mitchell and Bishop into the work out, knowing that the organization likely won’t take either player at No. 27 in the first round or No. 36 in the second.
“I don’t think they come in thinking D-League,” he said, speaking generally. “I think every guy comes in thinking their ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, and that’s why we bring them in. There may be a guy like a Wes Matthews that nobody thought about, nobody drafted and plays in [Portland] now. So you want to bring every kid in that you think maybe can play at this level and really work them out.”
Mitchell, 23, said he would consider playing overseas if he isn’t drafted.
“If I got to go to Europe for a few and maybe come back next year or the year after, I’ll do that,” Mitchell said. “But it’s my dream to play in the NBA and I’m not going to give up.”
Rutgers coach Mike Rice believes Mitchell can contribute overseas.
“There is a professional league that he’s going to succeed in and I think he is developing now into more of a small forward instead of a power forward,” Rice said by phone. “I think that will take time and his work ethic and dedication to his game will allow him to have a long career overseas.”
The 6-5 Bishop hopes to continue his dream as well.
A standout at Paterson Kennedy High School under coach Jimmy Ring, Bishop finished up at St. Benedict’s Prep under Dan Hurley.
A hardworking forward with no single skill that makes him stand out, he spent four years under Mick Cronin at Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats make the NCAA Tournament this year, where they lost to eventual champ UConn in the second round.
Bishop averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds last season. Like Mitchell, he was thrilled by his first NBA workout.
“It feels good to be back in your hometown, home state working out for a team,” he said.
Growing up in the tough inner-city of Paterson, Bishop said he hoped to show the “kids that are coming up behind me that you can do a lot of things from where we come from [as] long as you work hard.”
Bishop, 23, likely won’t hear his name drafted next week, either, and said he’s just hoping to earn a living playing ball somewhere.
“Yeah, I would go to Europe,” he said. “I just really want to go somewhere where I can just play. I just want to play basketball.”
**Hazell, Parsons work out for Knicks
(Photos courtesy NJ.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.