There are only 15 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 Makhel Mitchell was one of the earlier commits to the 2019 class for Maryland, along with his brother Makhi. In high school, Makhel was mostly known for his ability to work effectively in the post and for his interior defense. This led him to be rated a 4-star recruit with an 81 scout grade, according to ESPN. He was ranked the No. 3 overall player in Washington, D.C. in the 2019 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.
Here is what to expect from Makhel this season.
Makhel Mitchell, Forward, No. 22
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
High school: Woodrow Wilson
2018-19 stats: 5.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.3 apg (AAU)
Makhel is joining a Maryland team that is extremely deep, with the ability to play big or small. The scouting report on him says, “Makhel is a force to be reckoned with on the offensive and defensive end. Makhel is strong enough and skilled enough to post up with confidence and some effectiveness,” per ESPN.
On the defensive side, Makhel stays around the basket and protects the rim. He is a highly skilled shot blocker and rebounder that goes hand-in-hand with his interior offense. For the Terps, Makhel will provide great depth for Mark Turgeon. He will also provide the option to roll with a big lineup and help the inside game.
Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of his game.
As mentioned above, Makhel is a tall 6-foot-10 power forward. His main strength is his ability to work in the post on offense. He moves quickly when he has the ball inside, and has the skill to make a move to the rim or to fade away and shoot.
“I prefer [to play] like back to the basket, like bullying and all that,” Makhel told Testudo Times at Maryland Madness last October.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, Makhel is a great finisher around the rim. One of his strengths is his ability to dunk the basketball. At 6’10, 235 pounds, Makhel has a college-ready build. This allows him to be a finisher around the basket.
“Makhel has great size and great hands,” Turgeon said. “He is great around the basket and can score with both right and left hands. He is also a great passer for his position.”
On the defensive side of things, Makhell’s main strength is his ability to block shots. He has a tall stature and while he may not be the most athletic and long of the group, he still can block shots efficiently.
One standout weakness to Makhel’s arsenal is his athleticism. He does possess a college-ready body and figure, but if he improves his athleticism, he will be dangerous for opponents.
Another non-strength in Makhel’s game is his three-point shooting. Most 6’10 forwards lack an ability to shoot from mid-range and beyond, and while three-point shooting is not necessarily a weakness for the freshman forward, it’s something he should work on the round-out his game and make him more versatile.
He can shoot the basketball, but it’s not the strong suit of his game. If he develops his shot more in his freshman campaign, he will be a threat to shoot and score inside, which will help the Terps’ offense.
Lastly, another weakness for Makhel is his struggle to finish. He is very capable of getting inside and to the rim, but one part of his game he can improve on is putting the ball in the hoop from inside.
This is part of the reason his brother, Makhi, was ranked much higher than him. Makhi is a much better finisher when inside the paint. If Makhel developed his game around his ability to finish inside, he would see a lot of success.
Outlook for the 2019-20 Season
It is likely that Jalen Smith, Ricky Lindo Jr., Darryl Morsell (or at three) and Makhi will see the most minutes at the four and five position. The Mitchell twins and Lindo are familiar with each other already as they played on the same AAU team. Makhel could find himself in the rotation in certain situations, but won’t likely see significant minutes.
Makhel will give the Terps with an additional body in their front court, providing minutes to the team when fouls become and issue and other forwards and big men need a breather.
If he does make the floor, he could serve as a solid rim protector for Turgeon. And if he improves his mid-range and three-point shot, he can serve a versatile role for this team.
“What really stands out about Makhel is his physical and unselfish play,” said John Perry, Makhel’s AAU coach at DC Premiere. “He has great court awareness and he loves the game. He plays the game the right way and he likes to see his teammates succeed. He is always going to play really hard and hold his brother accountable. He really takes pride in the entire team playing hard.”
Whether Makhel is on the court or not, he will serve as a presence that will motivate his teammates to get better. And he can build a foundation to have a bigger impact on this team in future years.