Duke basketball: Mark Mitchell key piece to championship aspirations

Duke basketball forward Mark Mitchell (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Mark Mitchell (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team returned one of its most important pieces to winning a title. 

Duke basketball fans received great news back in March with the announcement of Mark Mitchell’s decision to return for his sophomore season.

Mitchell’s return not only bolsters an already stacked Duke roster but also brings back arguably the most versatile player.

As a freshman, Mark Mitchell showcased tremendous ability as a two-way player after he was tasked with guarding the best offensive player on most nights, all while being asked to score the ball.

Mitchell’s freshman numbers were very encouraging, averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting splits of 47-percent from the field, 35-percent from beyond the arc, and 76-percent from the charity stripe.

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Expecting the same role as last season, Mitchell should provide elite defense, along with an increased scoring load. His ability to score from various positions, crash the boards, and switch defensively makes him an invaluable asset to the team.

He should see time at the small and power forward positions, which suits him best in the second year head coach Jon Scheyer’s offense.

Mark Mitchell should also bring a more vocal presence to the team this season.

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Mark Mitchell, a highly skilled slasher, excels at cutting off the ball to create opportunities for shots at the rim and aggressively rebounds for second-chance points. While he possesses solid ball-handling skills, he lacks elite wiggle, limiting him primarily to direct drives to the basket, which has proved to not hinder him thus far.

Despite his unconventional shooting form, Mitchell showed that he can consistently hit jump-shots, having the second highest 3-point percentage on the team.

If he can refine the mechanics of his jump shot, it would further elevate his offensive profile making him and even more appeasing draft prospect and lethal threat for Duke.

Standing at 6-foot-9, Mitchell possesses an impressive physique that has been further developed through Duke’s rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program.

The coaching staff has placed great emphasis on this program ever since their defeat against Tennessee in last year’s NCAA Tournament, where they seemed overwhelmed and overmatched.

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It’s worth noting that Mitchell was unable to participate in the final game of the season due to a knee injury.

His length, defensive instincts, and aggressiveness make him an exceptionally formidable defender and his return also brings valuable continuity on the defensive side, given Scheyer’s strong emphasis on defense.

Mark Mitchell has set his sights on the ultimate goal of triumphantly cutting down the nets in April, and his contribution will undoubtedly play a significant role in Duke’s relentless pursuit of securing their sixth National Championship.

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