Updated: Jun 11
To conclude the summer AAU cycle, The Circuit Championship at the Fantastic 40 brought together elite sneaker-affiliated and independent programs under one roof. Taking place at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy in Las Vegas, Pro Insight was on hand to cover the four-day event. In between games, we caught up with Mark Mitchell, Jr. of Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) and KC Run GMC (MO).
Mitchell, Jr., when healthy (was out for a stretch this summer with an elbow injury), is one of the most dynamic prospects in the country. He brings legitimate versatility on both ends of the floor and still seems to just be scratching the surface when it comes to his ultimate upside. The 6’8” Mitchell, Jr. embodies what NBA teams are seeking in a modern-day hybrid forward.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Mitchell, Jr. discussed his decision to transfer, what he’s been working on this past year, his recruitment update, what he brings to a team, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Mark Mitchell, Jr., from Lansing, Kansas:
Pro Insight: Describe this past season.
Mark Mitchell, Jr.: It was pretty good. I think I had a great season until I had an injury towards the end. I missed a couple games and came back, played pretty well. I think I did pretty good, showed what I could do and had a good all-around season.
PI: What happened with your injury?
MM: Yeah, during the season I caught an alley-oop and fell, put my arm down, and dislocated it once. I came back and played actually, I thought I was fine. I was doing all the normal stuff I do, but then I got hurt in my first game of AAU so I haven’t played all summer. I get cleared when I get back home, so I’ll definitely be good to go for this season.
PI: What have you been doing to take advantage of the time off the court?
MM: Working on my one-hand form shooting just a lot because that’s really all I could do. Strengthening my left hand even though I’m left handed. I wouldn’t say it’s really my dominant hand, so just working on my touch, passing with my left hand, passing off the dribble, hooks, runners, etc.
PI: Last time we talked, you mentioned you wanted to improve your shooting consistency — have you made any strides as a shooter?
MM: Yeah, I improved mightily. I think having my injury also kind of helped because all I could really do was shoot. I think I definitely upped my percentages. I worked on my feet, worked on my base and definitely improved.
PI: You feel like it’s become more consistent?
MM: I think for sure. I think just being more consistent in what I do with my routine in shooting definitely helped me be more consistent.
PI: Another improvement area you had mentioned was adding strength — how have you been working on that?
MM: It’s been kind of hard because I hurt my elbow, so I haven’t been able to do a lot of upper body lifts. I’ve been working on a lot of legs and my center of gravity, but now that I’m getting more healthy I’ve been getting in the weight room and working on my upper body. It should come around soon.
PI: How much has your overall game grown over the past year?
MM: I think it’s grown in my dribble moves, my shiftiness, things like that. Just consistency with my jumper and I think the jump shooting aspect of it is what I was trying to work on. I can do a lot of things already, but just shooting, being more crafty, and being more shifty with my moves is what I wanted to do and I think I improved on that.
PI: Talk about your time with KC Run GMC — how have they helped develop you on and off the court?
MM: It was great even though I didn’t get to play as much with them as I wanted to over the course of my time with them. It’s a family environment, LJ is a good guy and he definitely helped me get to places I might not have been able to get to without him. I’m just thankful for every opportunity they gave me.
PI: You recently transferred to Sunrise Christian — what led to that decision?
MM: I mean I love my old school. Love it with all my heart and it will always be home, but I think I need to be challenged every day…be around like-minded guys at all times, be in practice and be challenged. It’s time to take my game to the next level, so when I go into college basketball or whatever I do I can make an instant impact.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
MM: I’ll be listing my top-four or five pretty soon.
PI: You’ve taken a few visits — how have those been?
MM: They’ve all been great. I love all of the coaching staffs I’m involved with right now and will probably make a decision in December.
PI: What are you ultimately looking for in your program of choice?
MM: I think just fit and who can really just get me better. I think that’s really the most important thing, just fit, where I can be me, and where I can just improve daily.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
MM: I think every school I’m looking at right now. I think I’ll be fine in any system I go to. I think they all fit me pretty well. I don’t think I can go wrong with any of my options.
PI: You recently posted that your DMs are open for NIL opportunities — how’s that been going?
MM: Yeah, I’m just taking it slow right now. Obviously I’m not the most famous kid in AAU basketball. Just taking my time with it, talking through it with my parents and family.
PI: What are your thoughts on that rule change?
MM: I think it’s big. I think it will definitely shift the landscape of college basketball with some guys who were planning on going to the G-League or NBL. They’ll just stay and hoop now. I think profiting off your name and likeness just makes more sense in the grand scheme of things, so I think that’s great.
PI: Last time we spoke you wanted to wait and see what the G-League would be like this past season before sharing any strong opinions — are you more open to that as an option, now?
MM: I think I would consider pro options. I think I want to go to college, though. But if they contact me I would definitely be open to seeing how Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Isaiah Todd increased their draft stock this year. I think it definitely worked out for them and talking to some guys I know they said it was definitely a good experience.
PI: If you had one hashtag to describe yourself, what would it be?
MM: I think my hashtag would be #InGodWePlay. Just with everything I do is with God, I know I’m not the most perfect person, but I try to take my faith seriously.
PI: When you decide to commit, what is a team getting in Mark Mitchell, Jr.?
MM: I think a versatile player, a modern day wing. The type of guy the NBA covets, nowadays. I think I can do it all, literally do everything on the court. Guard 1-4 and maybe some 5s in college if they’re not too big, but just a guy who can do everything.