Home Sport ‘He’s stubborn as hell’: How Steffon Mitchell’s competitive spirit helps BC basketball

‘He’s stubborn as hell’: How Steffon Mitchell’s competitive spirit helps BC basketball

Hours earlier than Boston College hosted Virginia final Tuesday, Steffon Mitchell began to really feel dizzy.

His head throbbed and his abdomen wasn’t proper, and he knew he needed to sit down and get some assist. He threw up as he stumbled off the courtroom, and 20 minutes later, he was caught in an remoted room a couple of hours earlier than the sport.

Mitchell had by no means wanted intravenous remedy (IV) earlier than, however the workforce physician and head coach Jim Christian satisfied him it was the proper determination.

“I didn’t know what that was like,” Mitchell informed Boston.com. “Could I play with that?”

In many instances, the reply to that query could be no, however in Mitchell’s case, it turned a definitive and resounding sure after some preliminary ambiguity.

After consuming solely two cups of Cheddar Goldfish all the day, and psyching himself up as a lot as he may, Mitchell performed 30 minutes and helped the Eagles knock off the defending nationwide champion Cavaliers, 60-53, for his or her greatest win of the season.

“It was inspiring to see him do that,” stated Jared Hamilton, who hit the eventual game-winning 3-pointer. “Putting the team before himself was something that really carried over and inspired us throughout the game. If he can play through this, there’s no reason why anything out there should be able to affect any of us.”

Mitchell completed with 10 factors, seven rebounds, three blocks, and two steals, however as typical it was the extra nuanced moments and the signature hustle performs that outlined his evening. The 6-foot-8-inch large man shut down diminutive guard UVA Kihei Clark late within the recreation. He additionally introduced the ball up, gathered an enormous rebound within the closing seconds, and hit two free throws to assist seal the win.

Those who know him nicely weren’t in any respect shocked. They’re used to the hassle and vitality he brings as the final word glue man, but that doesn’t make them any much less impressed when he items collectively performances like this one.

“He’s got the heart of a lion,” Christian stated. “We all knew that. If he was able to play, he was going to play. We kept asking him at timeouts, ‘How you doing, do you need a blow?’ When he got his third foul, he wanted to stay in the game. You need to sit over here for a minute, but that’s him.”

Mitchell has at all times been wired that approach. His childhood in Shakopee, Minnesota, his expertise moonlighting as a highschool tennis star, and his ascension at BC all revolve round a standard theme: He’ll do completely something he has to with a view to win.

He ranked within the 98th percentile for competitiveness.

When Mitchell was a child, he and his youthful brother, Garrett, gravitated towards something that concerned competitors, a lot in order that their mother and father, Gina and Juan, went out of their method to enchantment to their viewers.

“It didn’t matter if it was who was going to get in the shower, who had to do a chore around the house, Juan would always come up with little things,” Gina Mitchell stated. “Steffon always wanted to compete in rock-paper-scissors, a game of cards. He’s just always been that way.”

Once, when Gina and Juan attended a parent-teacher convention, the psychology instructor informed them their son scored within the 98th percentile for competitiveness on a Myers-Briggs equal. Their solely query was the place that different 2 p.c went.

“We looked at each other, nodded our heads and turned back to the teacher, like, ‘So what? What are you trying to tell us?’” Gina stated. “For us, those kinds of things are just part of who he is.”

That competitiveness surfaced of their home, within the classroom, and in absolutely anything, nevertheless it was no extra current than in sports activities. Following a five-overtime, buzzer-beater, state semifinal highschool hoops loss, Mitchell stated he couldn’t watch SportsCenter for a couple of month. He’s nonetheless motivated after his basketball workforce completed third within the state twice.

It possible gained’t come as a shock that Mitchell scored nearly 2,000 factors in highschool. It’s not surprising that he additionally performed soccer and was a dominant tight finish and nook (regardless of his peak). What is shocking about his highschool athletic profession is that he was additionally a tennis star.

He didn’t simply dabble, both. Mitchell began taking part in in sixth grade, and he made the varsity lineup the primary 12 months he may, as a seventh-grader. He didn’t commit practically as a lot time to it as he did basketball and soccer, nonetheless it didn’t find yourself mattering all an excessive amount of.

‘He’s stubborn as hell’: How Steffon Mitchell’s competitive spirit helps BC basketball
Steffon Mitchell was a tennis star in highschool. —Photo courtesy The Mitchell Family

Gina and Juan recall a second in seventh grade when the Shakopee coach approached them and informed them it was OK that Mitchell was down in a match as a result of he would study from it and get higher. Once once more, they glanced at one another in bemusement.

“I looked at Juan, and I said, ‘I’m not counting him out yet,’” Gina stated. “This kid just has this innate will to win. He came back and he won that match. I think everybody around us was pretty surprised. The coach talked with us afterward. I think that’s just indicative of who he’s always been. He’s never counted himself out.”

They consider that the larger the setting, the extra possible it’s that Mitchell goes to rise to the event. Juan remembers that Mitchell’s tennis strokes weren’t essentially picturesque. If he needed to hit the ball over 30 occasions to win some extent, he would. Whatever labored.

He ended up making it to a nationwide event by way of Junior Team Tennis, however the practices weren’t for him. Mitchell nonetheless performs tennis for enjoyable at BC, however make no mistake, it’s all about basketball. It at all times was.

‘He’s stubborn as hell’: How Steffon Mitchell’s competitive spirit helps BC basketball
Growing up in Shakopee, Minnesota, Steffon Mitchell rapidly realized he liked a number of sports activities. Football and tennis had been key elements of his childhood, however basketball finally caught. —Photo courtesy The Mitchell Family

He grew up rapidly by competing in opposition to older gamers.

The grittiness Mitchell shows in each side of life is not any extra clear than on the basketball courtroom. Numerous that stems from his internal make-up, however a portion of it additionally comes from his environment.

Juan coaches women hoops, and he did all the things in his energy to make sure Steffon mastered the basics and will do all the things nicely on the courtroom. He labored in a faculty, so he at all times had a key to the fitness center, and he ensured that exercises had been enjoyable for his children.

He knew they had been particular athletes, however he made certain they didn’t really feel any stress. Juan wished them to fall in love with sports activities themselves. When he realized Steffon was actually keen about basketball, ramping up the depth felt pure and unforced.

“He loves the game,” Juan stated. “He just wants to get better in every phase of it.”

‘He’s stubborn as hell’: How Steffon Mitchell’s competitive spirit helps BC basketball
Juan Mitchell is a basketball coach, and he at all times made certain his son, Steffon, may do all the things nicely on the courtroom. —Photo courtesy The Mitchell Family

Growing up, Mitchell competed in opposition to children eight years older in his yard in Shakopee. When he bought his shot blocked, he needed to study on the fly and alter. In fourth or fifth grade, he began battling Juan’s highschool gamers at camps and rapidly discovered the best way to maintain his personal.

He was blessed with peak and coordination, and he labored onerous to show any weaknesses he had into strengths. As one of many youngest gamers on the courtroom most of his life, he discovered that one of the best ways to earn the belief of these round him was to not pressure pictures and give attention to making profitable performs.

Of course he took over video games at occasions, too, however for probably the most half, he prided himself on being the consummate teammate. In the meantime, what they didn’t see was the additional work within the lab. He had his eyes on a much bigger prize, and he knew what he needed to do to get there.

“I think seventh grade is when I first knew I was going to be a Division 1 basketball player,” Mitchell stated. “I was playing a couple Division 1 players at the time. They were better than me, but they weren’t crazy better than me. I was in seventh grade, and I was like, ‘I can do this. I love basketball and I love competing.’ I was like, ‘I will be a Division 1 basketball player if I keep working hard.’”

He does somewhat little bit of all the things.

After some uncertainty about the place he would play, Mitchell believes Boston College has been the right touchdown spot.

He may do with out the aggressive drivers who’re something however Minnesota good, however he values training and always desires to indicate the basketball world he belongs, which aligns with all the things BC is about. After a standout profession at Shakopee, Mitchell attended Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas, hoping to make much more of a reputation for himself amongst elite competitors.

Coach Christian was intrigued, and he watched him work out and provided him a spot on the workforce. Mitchell visited BC a couple of days later, and he dedicated a day after that.

“I wanted to prove that I could play at a high major level,” Mitchell stated.

[email protected] beats Albany, 72-51. 🦅@MitchellSteffon put up a 15 level, 13 board double-double within the win#WeAreBC pic.twitter.com/pohV8O16GE

— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) December 11, 2019

Christian didn’t know simply how competitive he was straight away, however he may inform Mitchell carried himself with a sure swagger and a perpetual chip on his shoulder.

“It doesn’t really matter to us who was recruiting him,” Christian stated. “He fit the role that we needed, and we’re very thankful we got him.”

When he bought to BC, he contributed in lots of areas straight away. As a freshman, he completed first on the workforce in blocks, first in rebounds, second in steals, third in assists, fourth in minutes, and fifth in factors. The subsequent 12 months, he was first in blocks once more, second in steals once more, second in assists, fourth in minutes, and seventh in factors.

This season – after staying at BC to work on his shot as a substitute of going dwelling for the summer time – he’s first in blocks, steals, rebounds, and minutes, second in assists, and fourth in factors, as of Thursday. The stability is spectacular when put within the context of the workforce, however the numbers are much more staggering when examined with a wider lens.

As of Tuesday, he’s the one participant in Division 1 since 2017-18 to have 633 rebounds, 181 assists, 107 steals, and 86 blocks. He’s additionally the one participant nationally to log 8.Eight rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.four steals, and 1.2 blocked pictures per recreation this season.

From the 1996-97 season till earlier this 12 months, an Atlantic Coast Conference participant has tallied at the least 13 factors, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, and two assists in a recreation six occasions. Mitchell did it twice in per week this December.

Boston College’s Steffon Mitchell is simply the third participant since 1996 in a two-game span to document…

28+ Points
25+ Rebounds
5+ Assists
11+ Steals pic.twitter.com/M8MEu3TLMf

— ACC Men’s Basketball (@accmbb) December 17, 2019

“He’s one of those players that I think every team in the league would want,” Christian stated. “The role may not be the same on every team in the league, but everybody knows he’s about winning. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win, and that’s what makes him special.”

“He’s stubborn as hell.”

Earlier this season, when Christian believed Mitchell ought to have taken a shot with the shot clock at 5, Mitchell noticed it in a different way. He’s glad to shoot, however he didn’t really feel it was the proper time to take action and he didn’t shrink back from that perception.

Christian stated they debated for 10 minutes whether or not he ought to have shot it, including that everyone on this planet would have stated sure besides Mitchell. He doesn’t at all times see conditions the identical approach as different individuals, but typically that’s refreshing and useful.

“He’s stubborn as hell,” Christian stated. “His biggest strength is the most annoying thing about him. I love him to death, but there are some times we’ve debated over stuff that could go on for hours. That’s kind of who he is. I embrace it.”

Mitchell hopes a singular mix of ability, stubbornness, and savvy may also help him make it to the NBA. He appreciates the Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Draymond Green comparisons he’s gotten through the years, and he hopes to make profitable performs on the subsequent degree like they do.

First, he has unfinished enterprise at BC, and that’s the place his focus lies in the mean time. The Virginia win was a begin, however he’s hoping to perform way more with the Eagles.

“He’s probably one of the most loyal guys I’ve ever coached,” Christian stated. “He would run through a wall for this program, and we would run through a wall for him.”

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