Harrison Central grad Mitchell looking to make an impact at Akron
Kobe Mitchell found himself in adjustment mode last season.
Obviously, the Class of 2021 Harrison Central High School graduate had the normal adjustments that every college freshman has to make. But, his went even deeper than learning how to fully function away from home.
Mitchell’s adjustments in basketball where he shined for four seasons for the Huskies were much greater. And even by that, it’s not necessarily the speed of the game, size of the players, etc., which are definitely a factor.
Simply just sitting and watching may have been the toughest thing for Mitchell, who had never sat on the bench for any sport since he first joined a t-ball team in Cadiz. Quite simply, Mitchell was normally the best player on the team.
When he arrived on campus at the University of Akron, Mitchell owned a resume that included more than 2,000 career points, multiple-time All-Ohio honors and litany of other accolades.
None of those mattered, however. Quite simply, pretty much every player on the Zips roster had similar stats and accolades during their prep days.
Mitchell learned shortly before the season opener last year, at Ohio State, that he was going to be red shirted. He didn’t quit. He didn’t put his name in the transfer portal. He didn’t even pout. He simply went to work.
“It was a great learning experience,” Mitchell said during a brief phone interview. “I was able to watch, get better, get stronger and now I am hoping that translates to the court this season.”
The Zips opened their season last Monday with an overtime win against South Dakota State. Mitchell saw action in the game, but didn’t record a stat.
But, again, it’s part of the process.
“Obviously, when you’re used to playing your whole life, it’s tough,” Mitchell said. “But, it was really a great thing for me and my development. I was able to get a chance to see what it takes to win and be a successful player at this level. It was challenging at first, but I believe it’s going to pay off in the long run.”
Mitchell truly believes that he’s seen his game grow during his red-shirt season. And when he said that, he meant in all capacities, too.
“I am shooting the ball a lot better and with more confidence. I am definitely better on the defensive end,” Mitchell said. “The defensive end is a big part of being able to get to play at this level. I have a full grasp of the system and I think my leadership qualities have improved.”
Though he wasn’t in uniform, Mitchell traveled to basically every game last season, practiced daily and went through the same meetings and work as the active players. He got to experience March Madness, which he called a “dream come true” after the Zips won the Mid-American Conference title last March.
Mitchell received his championship ring on Monday night.
“Obviously, everyone watches March Madness on television, but to get to get experience it and be involved and see what it’s like from a player’s perspective was great,” Mitchell said. “It was just a crazy experience and one that my team and I sure hope we get to feel again this year.”
Though several key players from last year’s team have either graduated or moved on via the portal, the Zips are picked third in the MAC behind Kent State and Toledo. However, as most realize, a poll in late October means about as much as the paper it’s printed on when the first week of March and the conference tournament rolls around.
“I think we have a great group of guys,” MItchell said. “Our togetherness and chemistry are really good. I believe that bond is going to be what makes us a great team in the end. That togetherness was a big factor in lifting us to the conference title last year because you could really see it come together in the last 10 games or so. I think we were a bit ahead of schedule and now we have to keep improving and building.”
The Zips played their only Power Five opponent of the season Friday night when they met Mississippi State in Philadelphia. Mitchell will get to make a pretty cool trip in the few days leading up to Thanksgiving when the Zips take part in the Cayman Islands Classic. They open MAC play on Jan. 3 against Northern Illinois.
GOBBLE TILL WE WOBBLE 5K
A new 5K is set for St. Clairsville on Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 24). The inaugural Gobble Til You Wobble 5K will be held with proceeds set to benefit St. Clairsville High School graduate O.J. Diomedi and his fight against leukemia.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. with a run and walk. The entry fee is $25. Each participant will receive a t-shirt and the number of awards to be presented will be determined based on entries.
Diomedi is a 2006 graduate from St. Clairsville and he played football at Muskingum where he earned his degree in 2010. He and his wife, Courtney (Stewart) have two children, Evelyn and Quinley.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE grad Macie Hothem was named to the Presidents Athletic Conference Sportsmanship Team. She plays for Waynesburg.
UNION LOCAL grad Hannah Kemp, who is a runner at West Liberty University, placed third in the Mountain East Conference Championship meet last weekend at Oglebay Park. She’s a multiple-time All-MEC performer
WHEELING PARK grad Emma Delk, who plays soccer at Fairmont State, is a member of the Falcons’ conference-championship winning team.
SHADYSIDE GRAD Caroline Mercer is a member of Bethany College’s PAC-winning volleyball squad and will play in the NCAA Division III national tournament this weekend.
ANTHONY CARMAN, a John Marshall graduate, and current wrestler at West Virginia, began his season with a championship in the Southeast Open held in Salem, Va. He posted a 7-3 decision in the 184-pound title match.