There are only 21 days until the start of the 2019-20 season for Maryland men’s basketball. As the Terps get ready for a highly anticipated year where they’re ranked in the top-10 of every major preseason poll, we’ll be breaking down head coach Mark Turgeon’s roster, which promises to be the deepest he’s had in his time in College Park.
Freshman forward Makhi Mitchell comes into the program as the highest rated recruit in the 2019 class, with lofty expectations of potentially being a starter at some point this season. Here is what to expect from Mitchell in year one.
Makhi Mitchell, Forward, No. 21
Hometown: Washington DC
High school: Woodrow Wilson
2018-19 stats: 9.2 ppg, 9 rpg, 2.3 bpg (AAU)
Mitchell comes into College Park with big shoes to fill in the Terps front court with the departure of Bruno Fernando. While Jalen Smith will likely slide into Fernando’s dominant role and control the paint for the Terps, Mitchell and sophomore Ricky Lindo Jr. will also play a big role there.
Mitchell is one of five newcomers that make up the Terps 2019 freshman class, including his identical twin brother, Makhel Mitchell. Mitchell was ranked as a 4-star recruit and the 64th ranked player in the ESPN 100 rankings.
“I do pretty much everything. I can bring the ball up when I need to, score, defend, block shots and just provide that extra push for the team,” Mitchell said in Maryland’s five burning questions.
“Being in college has made me realize how much harder I have to work. But I’m good at just pushing that pace and always playing with intensity and competing and talking trash. I love talking trash, I feel like that makes the game so much better.”
Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of his game.
Mitchell’s skillset is very in-line with that of the modern day big man. Mitchell has rare ball-handling ability for someone of his size, able to bring the ball up the floor with ease.
This was made evident throughout his high school and AAU career, and in particular during the DCIAA title game, as you can see here. Mitchell brings the ball up, crosses over his defender and slams it down effortlessly.
3. In the DCIAA title game, @WilsonHSBBall F Makhi Mitchell looks like a guard as he slips past his defender easily and then finishes with a slam. pic.twitter.com/CPpiAmNePT— WashPost HS Sports (@WashPostHS) February 28, 2019
As visible above, Mitchell made a name for himself during his high school years as an elite dunker. He can take his defender off the dribble and put them on a poster with authority.
Makhi Mitchell put him on a POSTER @WilsonHSBBall @ssmgt pic.twitter.com/8XUQbgUxCx— BallerTV (@BallerTV) February 7, 2019
Makhi Mitchell serving posters out here @CityOfPalmsBKB pic.twitter.com/zDM1pXyziP— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 18, 2018
When it comes to Mitchell’s offensive skill set, handles and poster dunks are not all there is. The highly touted freshman also has slick moves in the post and can get up amongst the trees and contest for offensive rebounds, something that his frontcourt mate Smith also excels at.
Here’s Mitchell putting his defender in the spin cycle to get an easy bucket in the post.
Shoutout to @CourtsideFilms 2019 Makhi Mitchell (Mitchell Twins) is something serious lol Pro Move @DC_Premier_ @TheHoopBuzz @GoatEnterprises pic.twitter.com/5MjakOiAq5— Tremaine Watson (@mac_ysl) August 19, 2018
And here is Mitchell fighting for offensive rebound after offensive rebound before finally drawing a foul during his junior year AAU season.
A slimmed down Makhi Mitchell hitting the offensive glass. pic.twitter.com/iVmZ75f41H— Josh Stirn (@Josh_Stirn) April 29, 2018
There really aren’t too many glaring weaknesses in Mitchell’s game. He noticeably transformed his body during his high school years and will look to continue to stay in shape and get his motor up while at Maryland. Coming in with the muscle he already has will make it a lot easier to adjust to the physicality of the Big Ten.
One area where Mitchell could improve is his ability to cover smaller and quicker players, which he was asked to do so in certain game situations. Like most bigs, he is most comfortable guarding other guys his size and that could be something that hurts Maryland defensively.
Another area where Mitchell can improve is his three-point shooting. He showed flashes of potential from beyond the arch during his high school years, but doesn’t shoot it too often. Look for Mitchell to improve on this skill as the season goes along.
Outlook for the 2019-20 Season
Mitchell’s versatility on the wing is something that should lead to him seeing lots of minutes this season for this loaded Terps team.
His ability to play on the wing and in the post should be extremely beneficial for the Terps’ offensive spacing. At times in the past, Maryland’s offense has gone stagnant when it had two bigs on the floor and both were in the low post. Mitchell’s ability to play inside and out should lead to great spacing when he is on the floor, especially when he and Smith are playing together.
Can't wait for Makhi Mitchell to ball out in College Park!#FearTheTurtle pic.twitter.com/t1qWns724D— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) November 15, 2018
Mitchell comes into his freshman year with huge expectations of being an impact player, whether it’s as a starter or coming off of the bench and leading the second unit. CBS Sports College Basketball analyst Jon Rothstein expects him to be one of the most impactful freshmen in the Big Ten along with fellow Terps Donta Scott and Chol Marial.
10 Impact Big Ten Freshmen (in no particular order):— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) July 15, 2019
Trayce Jackson-Davis, IU
Rocket Watts, Michigan St
Malik Hall, Michigan St
Chol Marial, Maryland
Makhi Mitchell, Maryland
Donta Scott, Maryland
D.J. Carton, OSU
E.J. Liddell, OSU
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois
Samari Curtis, Nebraska
And head coach Mark Turgeon has certainly seen the big man’s potential already, giving him lots of praise at Big Ten media day.
“You look at Makhi, and you might not think he’s a great athlete, but he can really run the floor, and he’s very physical. He’s really what we needed,” Turgeon said. ”If he continues to let us coach him and continues to get better and continues to work on his shot and things, he’s got a chance to really, really help us a lot this season.”