Nov. 17, 2015
The Good Word
By Jon Cooper
Nothing comes easy on the basketball court and no one understands that better than Charles Mitchell. That work ethic is part of what makes him so valuable.
From tip-off until the clock reads 00:00 in the second half, Mitchell, in his second year at Georgia Tech since transferring from Maryland after his sophomore season, is all business — working, banging bodies in the paint, pulling down rebounds and either outletting to a teammate to initiate the fastbreak or going up strong for a putback and sometimes confounding opponents with his hook shot.
The Atlanta native and former Wheeler High School star is becoming “Mr. Double-Double,” having recorded 15 last season and going two-for-two in ‘15-16, with a 21-point, 11-rebound opener in the win over Cornell and a 12/12 follow up in the squeaker win against Tennessee.
The 6-8, 256-pound senior forward is not only relentless on the boards — especially the offensive boards — but is a mentor to the youngsters up front and an emotional leader.
Mitchell recently took a few minutes to talk with The Good Word about what he sees for the Jackets’ in 2015-16, what he feels physically after the offseason conditioning program and what he hears on the court.
THE GOOD WORD: What goals do you have for your senior season?
Charles Mitchell: For the team, be the best ACC team possible, try to win every game, try to make it to the Tournament, try to win ACC. It’s one of those things where anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Personally, I’m just trying to be the best rebounder in the country and be one of the best low-post scorers in the country. If you put your mind to it anything is possible. That’s how I feel. Go out there and give effort every night, just try hard to do something. The only thing you can do is look for success. If you do fail, the things you fail at just try again the next day.
People will tell you I’m very emotional but it’s only when I’m on the court playing basketball, playing a game that I love. All my emotions come out when the lights come on when I’m starting to play the game. When it comes to emotion and passion for something, basketball brings the best out of me.
TGW: The team is playing in the NIT Season Tip-Off this weekend. How much fun is it to play in these ESPN-sponsored Tournaments against top-level competition?
MITCHELL: Those are great, going to another city, playing on another big stage, like Barclays [Center]. Knowing that I’ve played there before I know the excitement of playing in an NBA arena against other college teams in front of college fans from different areas of the world. So it’s fun.
It’s very important to our team to get off to a fast start. We have 13 non-conference games and they’re good non-conference games. We’re playing Arkansas, maybe Villanova, Stanford, so we have a good non-conference schedule where if we go through this schedule and play really well and get some valuable wins to our record then we go into the conference feeling good about ourselves. I like our chances.
TGW: What kind of impact did the team’s offseason conditioning program have on you?
MITCHELL: It feels great because you see your body changing, you see the team changing, you see the effects of all the hard work that you put in and all your dedication during the offseason. Just going through those things together, going through the challenges as a team builds team chemistry that you need on and off the court. So I feel like it was a great off-season for us.
I made my body into the best shape possible this year giving it all I’ve got knowing this is my last go-round. I wanted to be in the best shape possible to run the floor, play up-tempo offense, play pressure defense, rebound and get out and blast the ball on offense. So I think with my body in shape right now I’ll be able to do run the floor with the team and the point guards Josh and them.
TGW: Your hook shot has been especially effective and some teammates have called it unstoppable. Is that something new to your repertoire?
MITCHELL: It’s something I’ve had for a while but being better-conditioned now, my body’s different that it has been more consistent. It’s something I’ve learned knowing I’m not the tallest big man or the quickest or strongest. A hook shot is something you can effectively use with anybody in the post. It’s something you drill and skill every day. You do a thousand hook shots in a week by yourself then you go to practice and you do another couple hundred more hook shots, then you do hook shots before practice. it becomes repetitive. It’s like in your nature. You build those habits so now it’s just a quick, off-the-dribble hook shot. It’s something that I’ve built into my game.
TGW: Georgia Tech was the best offensive rebounding teams in the ACC last season (14.3 ORPG) and you led the team in that category. What’s your approach to offensive rebounding?
MITCHELL: Offensive rebounds are not something I really think about. It’s an effort play. When it comes off the glass I go get it. It’s just one of those things, effort, that’s how I play. It’s a matter of pride. It’s one of those effort plays in a basketball game. It all has to do with effort and going to the glass and getting extra possessions for your team or getting extra points or an extra rebound. It’s an unselfish thing that you do to help your team.
BONUS: Being from Atlanta, you almost always have your own personal cheering section at home games. Can you tell when your family and friends are there cheering for you?
MITCHELL: (laughs) I hear my mom and my grandmother, all of them, regardless of anything. I hear them through all the noise because I’ve been raised by them so I know their distinctive voice. I know when they’re yelling and screaming. I can hear them throughout anybody.