Thursday, February 11, 2010

The next great Meck County player...and the Sweet 16

You never want to see a player get hurt, especially see someone blow out their ACL like Providence Day girls star Tiffany Mitchell did last April.

It probably cost her a chance to be a rare freshman on the USA Basketball 16 and under Junior National team that won a gold medal in Mexico.

But it may've made her better.

Mitchell a year ago was slender. She got pushed around a little. After her knee injury, though, she had six months of rehab, six months of hitting the weights hard and stretching and building her body. It shows now.

Mitchell, 5-10, has the frame of a college player already, even though she's just a sophomore. She's always been one of the more gifted players you'd see, able to make all the moves and all the shots. Now she's got more strength and is able to go inside and snatch rebounds away. She's able to initiate and take contact -- and finish shots -- while driving to the basket. She's erased one of the few doubts about her game: lack of toughness.

I watched her simply dominate Hickory Grove in Thursday's 46-24 win over the defending 3A state champs, and I couldn't help but think that Mitchell has a chance -- a real chance -- to be the best girls basketball player from Providence Day since Konecka Drakeford left school 16 years ago. And Drakeford may be the best player to ever play in Mecklenburg County, if former North Meck star Andrea Stinson isn't.

No offense to great Chargers stars like Pip Woodson and Jill Ingram and Natasha Brackett and the Edwards twins (Whitny and Britny) -- all players who would be on the Mount Olympus of Mecklenburg County girls hoops -- but Mitchell has a rare mix of size, ballhandling ability and shooting. In some ways she's a combination of the Ingrams and Bracketts and Woodsons. And that's kind of scary.

She's going to have to keep working on it and keep pushing herself, but I like how she plays with an aggressive attitude, like she's got something to prove. Maybe some of the colleges recruiting her doubted she could back strong, but Mitchell is really starting to look like she's going to be a special, special player before her career is done.

Ask me right now what my All-Observer girls all-star team would look like and I'd tell you: T-Mitch, East Meck's Monet (Smiley) Tellier, Cierra Burdick of Butler, Shannon Smith of Gastonia Forestview and Hickory Grove's Chelsea Douglas.

And I'd take that team up against anybody's area all-star team. Mitchell will play where she wants to. Tellier is signed to Virginia Tech. Burdick, the All-America junior, is committed to Tennessee. Douglas (Wake Forest) and Smith (North Carolina) will play against each other in the ACC.

Now here's your final regular season Sweet 16

Boys Sweet 16
1. Charlotte Christian IND 22-3
2. Hopewell 4A 20-1
3. Lake Norman 4A 18-2
4. Vance 4A 16-5
5. Hickory 3A 19-2
6. Monroe 1A 21-1
7. W. Caldwell 2A 18-2
8. East Rutherford 2A 19-1
9. Cherryville 1A 17-2
10. Shelby 2A 17-3
11. Salisbury 2A 13-4
12. Providence 4A 16-7
13. Olympic 4A 16-7
14. Gastonia Huss 3A 16-3
15. Concord 3A 15-6
16. Gastonia Forestview 3A 13-7

Girls Sweet 16
1. East Mecklenburg 4A 22-1
2. Butler 4A 15-4
3. Salisbury 2A 19-0
4. Charlotte Catholic 3A 21-2
5. Gastonia Forestview 3A 18-2
6. Rock Hill Northwestern 4A 21-1
7. Hopewell 4A 18-4
8. South Caldwell 4A 21-1
9. Concord Robinson 3A 18-2
10. Newton-Conover 2A 18-3
11. North Stanly 2A 21-2
12. Hickory 3A 18-3
13. Berry 2A 19-4
14. Providence Day IND 18-6
15. Concord 3A 17-5
16. Morganton Freedom 4A 18-4


Anonymous said...

Langston, I"m glad you finally got out of your Cierra-love fest and saw more players. T-Mitch, as you call her, is special, the best in town, you'll see when she goes to UConn or UNC or wherever.

Anonymous said...

Langston, right on. Tiffany is special. I saw tonight's game and she blew up. Hickory Grove didnt stand a chance!!!!