Mickey Mitchell transfers back to Prestonwood
Basketball rosters usually evolve the most before the season as talent is evaluated, needs are addressed and cuts are made in an effort to give each team its best chance to win.
But Plano West and Prestonwood Christian Academy have had to adjust on the fly since establishing their 2011-12 rosters as freshman Mickey Mitchell has returned to Prestonwood just months after leaving that school for Shepton High School, which is in the West system.
Normally one player transferring wouldn't be a big deal, but the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Mitchell is a consensus top 5 player in the country for the Class of 2015.
"The athletic lefty is very skilled and plays very hard offensively. [Mitchell] is the best eighth grader we, and the vast majority of scouts, have seen so far," said John Stovall of ESPN Recruiting following Clay Dade's Fab Frosh Camp in July. "Mitchell's skill level, strength and athletic ability separate him from the competition. He is a great creator off the dribble and is an exceptional passer who can shoot with range to 17 feet."
The move was somewhat surprising to both schools involved.
"I had heard rumors that Mickey missed all his friends and the school," said Chris Mayberry, Prestonwood head coach, "but I stay out of admissions, so I didn't know for sure he was coming back until last week."
Mitchell has been practicing with Prestonwood for the past week and a half.
"I'm from Orlando, so I had seen Mickey play this past summer, but I didn't know him as a person," said Mayberry, who is in his first season coaching the Lions. "He has really strong character; always saying 'yes sir, no sir,' and is very coachable."
Mitchell played basketball for Prestonwood's middle school last season as an eighth grader, but his transfer to West over the summer allowed for him to play point guard. That is unlikely to be the case at Prestonwood as the Lions already have a Division I prospect at the point in junior Marquan Botley.
"That's true, but Mickey reminds me of Scottie Pippen in that he can play all kinds of positions," Mayberry said. "Mickey doesn't really need a position; we will use him on the wing, on the block, at point forward, he can help us in a number of spots."
Not that Prestonwood necessarily needed the talent.
The Lions, who have advanced to the TAPPS 5A State Finals three straight years and won a championship in 2009-10, now have five DI prospects or commits on the roster in Botley, Mitchell, seniors Zach Peters, Marquan Botley and junior Julius Randle.
One team's gain is another team's loss.
The West coaches were informed of Mitchell's intent to transfer Oct. 21. But that information was learned via written notice, not in-person conversations.
"I never talked to Mickey or his dad (Ken) about him transferring," said Mike Hughes, West athletic director and head football coach. "That's fine, that's their decision. And it's not one I'm going to worry about; we'll do the same thing we always do: coach the kids that want to go here, get a good education and play in one of the best districts in the state."
Mitchell had been in West's long-term basketball and football plans.
In addition to his notable basketball exploits, Mitchell also made the varsity football team as a freshman, serving as the Wolves backup quarterback.
Before the season started, Hughes tabbed Mitchell as, "our quarterback of the future."
Mitchell threw four passes in the team's season-opening loss to Arlington Martin, but when senior starting quarterback Carson Smith was injured in West's district opener, the Wolves turned to junior Travis Korry, who had been the junior varsity quarterback, instead of Mitchell.
"We went with Travis because we felt like he was the player that gave us the best chance to win right now," Hughes said. "And I think you've seen that has been the case."
West hasn't been Mitchell free over the past two weeks though as Mickey's older brother Mike continues to play linebacker and defensive end for the Wolves.
Mike transferred into the West system, attending the senior high, along with Mickey earlier this year. But on the same day the West coaches were made aware of Mickey's intent to transfer, Mike made an interception for the Wolves against Hebron. Hughes said he wasn't aware of any plans for Mike to also transfer back to Prestonwood and is glad to have the elder Mitchell still around.
"Mike always practices hard and always plays hard," he said. "He is going to be one of the top football players in the country next season."
Prestonwood no doubt hopes the same holds true for Mickey, now that it has one of the top freshmen basketball players in the country back in its fold.