January 28, 2011

Mitchell advancing on the court

Kevin McCarthy

Andy Mitchell is far too humble to make this case so let’s do it for him: the Moreau Catholic High basketball star is excelling on the court this season and has always done just that in the classroom. In the vein of Jerry West as the longtime logo for the NBA, we nominate Mitchell for the prototype of the model high school student/athlete.

photo of Andy Mitchell

Moreau Catholic High in Hayward is not known as an assembly line producer of boys basketball talent. But that was before a certain Frank Knight made the transition from Oakland’s Fremont High, where he coached for 10 seasons and also played. Knight generally keeps his skill development capacity under wraps but, in a very short period of time, he has already played a role in the blossoming of Mitchell.

"During the summer he just exploded," Knight offered about his now star player. "Working out, lifting, running, shooting -- Andy never wanted to leave the gym."

Now the 6-foot-3 senior receives this description from his mentor: "Andy probably has the best 15-17 jumpshot of anybody I’ve ever coached. He also can get to the basket, has a decent handle and is a good jumper."

Mitchell is the currently the leading scorer on the Mariner team and is third in the Hayward Area Athletic league (HAAL) at 19.1 points per game. Additionally, he is nabbing 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals and passing for two assists each contest. For comparison sakes, Mitchell finished at 8.3 and 2.8 points and boards respectively last season.

He totaled 33 points and four steals in a victory against Arroyo, 28 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Tennyson and 17 points plus nine boards versus Skyline. Mitchell’s efforts also earned him an inclusion on the weekly NCP Star Watch.

Knight continued, "Andy has a 3.68 core grade point average with some AP courses. Off the court, he is extremely quiet and really humble -- one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached."

The Knight/Mitchell effect has already paid dividends. Last year’s Moreau squad finished 7-19 and 3-24 in 2008-2009. At this point, the Mariners are 11-7.

Here’s Mitchell’s perspective; "we’re all a year older but the credit goes to Coach Knight and the coaching staff."

The young man played club team basketball for the Oakland Rebels but made the decision not to participate in that arena this last summer. "I wanted to focus and spend all my time working on my basketball skills." The result of his choice: mission accomplished.

As for this season, Mitchell offered, "My role is to be one of our scorers plus Coach Knight wants his seniors to lead by example." Mission accomplished redux.

But he recalls his first season at Moreau. "My freshman year, all I could do was be out at the three-point line and shoot threes."

In a manner, it’s surprising Mitchell is on the hardwood instead of the gridiron. "My Dad played basketball but was really good at football growing up in San Francisco. But ever since I was young, I’ve had a love for basketball."

As for recruiting, Chico State has expressed interest as has Seattle University for this still under-the-radar prospect.

Let’s see what the effect is of the Knight/Mitchell combination throughout the remainder of the season -- where that carries not only Moreau but Mitchell too.