Friends’ Joe Mitchell had heard the criticism. A 6-foot-1 guard coming out of NAIA basketball’s Division II was a risk as a professional player, even if Mitchell did average 32.2 points on his way to way to becoming national player of the year.
“Nobody wanted to take a chance on a small-college player,” he said.
But Mitchell said he’ll get his chance in Canada’s National Basketball League. He plans on attending training camp this fall for the two-time defending league-champion London (Ontario) Lightning.
“I feel like this is a chance for me to prove myself,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to move on from there and hopefully it’ll lead to something even bigger, overseas or even in the NBA.”
A team spokesperson on Tuesday confirmed Mitchell has been invited to camp.
Mitchell played earlier this month in an Indianapolis showcase tournament, where he was scouted by Carlos Knox, the Lightning’s new coach. Knox, named London’s coach on Thursday, is a former player development coach for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.
“He saw me play in the pro-am and liked the way I played,” Mitchell said. “We talked after a game and he wanted to sign me.”
In his only full season at Friends, Mitchell led the Falcons to the national quarterfinals, the program’s best finish. Friends also won the KCAC regular-season championship and finished 27-7.
Mitchell played at Hutchinson Community College before transfers to Ohio and Wichita State, though he never played at either four-year school. He joined Friends in the middle of the 2012-13 season.
This season, he also averaged 5.1 rebounds and a league-best 4.7 assists.