Kelsey Mitchell right on point
Top 2014 prospect scores 31, distributes to teammates in Peach State title game
MARIETTA, Ga. -- When most people think of high-volume scorers, they think of selfish players taking a lot of shots. Kelsey Mitchell of Cincinnati, Ohio, is arguably the most lethal perimeter scorer we've seen since Jacki Gemelos, who seemingly only was stopped by injury.
But Mitchell, the No. 1 prospect in the Terrific 25 for the 2014 class, is a leader, a distributor and a scorer. She finished with 31 points in her All Ohio team's 76-67 championship win over the Lady Phoenix of Greensboro, N.C., at the Peach State Basketball Summer Invitational. All while battling double-teams, face-guarding and, understandably, fatigue.
With the game in the balance and Mitchell doing everything in her power to keep her team in the lead, she yelled to her coach, J.B. Bethea, for a quick sub. Her time on the bench would be short as the Lady Phoenix would cut the lead to as few as four points in the final six minutes of the game. But it is in this type of tense setting that her genius emerges.
"First off, I only want to come out after we get a bucket or a stop," Mitchell said. "I don't want to come out if I'm leaving my team in a bad way."
But with her talent and impact on any team she plays on, she has learned how to play exhausted.
"I've got to stop taking bad shots when I get tired," Mitchell said.
To her credit, Mitchell was about as impressive distributing the ball against a defense geared to stop her as she was in ripping the nets with her own shots. She used the defense's acute focus on her to get teammates such as Nijzah Hill open shots, and they were ready to answer the call down the stretch.
It is a fine line to walk as an elite player at the point who needs to score the ball consistently. At Princeton High School (Cincinnati, Ohio), Mitchell sees box-and-one defenses, traps and face-guarding schemes on a nightly basis. But summer club ball used to be a reprieve for the 5-foot-7 dynamo.
"I just (this summer) got used to it," Mitchell said of the junk defenses thrown her way. "I thought it was just high school, but in Orlando (AAU Super Showcase) I saw it. I try not to be selfish."
Mitchell is a special player because games like Wednesday's championship at the Summer Invitational are more the norm than the exception. She competes with her head and her game, and the tougher the circumstances the bigger the play she makes. Against the Lady Phoenix she had a dagger 20-footer or a no-look dish to put an end to each and every run.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.