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#TGW: Homecoming on The Flats

July 5, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

– The first thing you notice about Charles Mitchell is width; Georgia Tech’s newest power forward is broad – like a walking aircraft carrier. Once the Maryland transfer begins speaking, though, his personality out-sizzles his size.

He knows it, too.

At 6-feet-8 and 260 pounds, the former Wheeler High standout is on the rebound. He says he was happy enough at Maryland, but sounds as if he was homesick and more importantly as if his mother, Harriet Mitchell, and grandmother, Ella Mitchell, were kind of sick without the effervescent young man around.

So this transfer is first about a homecoming, yet, “Chuck,” talks as if he’s already at home on The Flats, as if he felt he belonged here all along.

“Maryland was a good fit for me. I’ll always appreciate what coach [Mark] Turgeon did for me,” he said. “I had a great two years at Maryland, but the whole transaction of being closer to my family is the reason I left Maryland.

“It was a no brainer to come closer to home, to Georgia Tech, a school I grew up around my whole life … Me and Chris Bolden go back a long way to AAU. I played high school basketball against most of the guys. We have long-time relationships.”

Glancing first at Mitchell and then at his stats – he averaged 6.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 70 games over two seasons at Maryland, your first guess at his role is likely to be on the money.

Once you hear him, and see that broad and persistent smile, it’s easy to tell that he sees himself as more than a rebounder/post presence.

Mitchell is bringing more than game. That personality takes center stage by jumping off the page. This feels like a chemistry addition.

“I used to call myself the garbage man,” he says. “I get the plays nobody expected, the offensive rebounds. I’m just an energy dude who sets up his team to win. My game is motivation and heart and will.

“That’s my type of personality, out-going, high charisma, make people smile … that’s the type of image I bring, the loving, caring type of image.”

Mitchell has requested a waiver that, if granted by the NCAA, will allow him to play in the upcoming season rather than sit out a year as usually required of transfers. He contends that transferred to be near family members who need him.

His grandmother has been ill recently, although he said she’s improving. Mitchell believes he can help Ella and Harriet continue tracking upward.

“My family is a big part of my life, and being closer to them and being closer to my grandmother is great for me,” Mitchell explains. “Toward the end of the season … my grandmother got into an [auto] accident. And my mother was feeling down about some things. Just being here helps them out a little more.”

He can help on the boards, too.

As a freshman, his rebounding rate of 13.7 per 40 minutes led the ACC, and as a sophomore his offensive rebounding rate of 15.4 percent ranked 12 nationally according to Kenpom.

His chief issue has been staying on the court.

Mitchell averaged a modest 18-plus minutes per game last season, and his foul rate of 5.7 per 40 minutes is uncommonly high. He needs to better defend without fouling, and he’ll also work at free throw shooting (33 percent last season).

After starting the final 10 games of his sophomore season for Maryland, he averaged 6.5 points and 6.3 rebounds overall.

He will not bring the same flexibility to the power forward spot that Robert Carter, Jr., took when he transferred to, ironically, Maryland.

Yet Mitchell promises to be every bit the rebounder that Carter was, or more, and perhaps he will be more effective as a rim protector.

Funny thing, he and Carter, Jr. are buds.

Before you even think it, “Me and Robert Carter have a mutual relationship, but it wasn’t a deal [switching schools],” he said. “It’s crazy how it happened. We still haven’t talked about the situation. I imagined [the two of them] in the same frontcourt] before I transferred, before I knew he was transferring.”

Mitchell said he did not decide first to transfer simply to leave Maryland and then choose Georgia Tech, but rather he chose to transfer closer to home, period, and then chose the Yellow Jackets over the Bulldogs.

His grandmother lives about 15 minutes south of Tech, after all, and his mother lives about 30 minutes north. Athens is another story.

“After I got my release, that’s when we contacted each other – [Tech] and UGA. I felt like Tech was the perfect fit for me. Any time I want I can go a couple exits and sit on [Ella’s] sofa. I still have a room at her house,” Mitchell says. “Back in high school this is where I was at every day.

“I knew all the players and the coaching staff. When I grew up, as a man, I wanted to see if I could leave Georgia and handle things on my own. The fact that I came back is about [family] coming to my games . . . I just felt like I was a better fit here. That’s one thing I love, knowing that my family is going to be in the stands.”

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