Every day after practice, Wellington senior Grace Mitchell shoots 100 three-pointers, shooting 20 at five spots on the perimeter.
Her goal is to make 84. If she hits 90 or more, it’s a great day. Anything less than 80 is disappointing.
“Either myself or my assistant will rebound for her, and she’s never been below 80 with me,” Wellington coach Eric Adams said. “One night she knocked down 94 out of 100.
“You do not want to play her in H-O-R-S-E.”
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Mitchell, who was nominated to the McDonald’s All-American game, has signed with Nebraska. At 6-foot-2, she creates mismatches on the perimeter with smaller guards or slower post players.
There’s a difference between shot takers and shot makers. And she’s a shot maker.
Nebraska women’s coach Connie Yori
Wellington (6-0) plays at Circle (5-1) at 6 Friday night. Both are 3-0 in AV-CTL IV.
“She’s got a beautiful stroke and you can’t leave her unguarded,” Adams said. “A lot of times I’ve noticed some pretty decent-sized guards out on the perimeter contesting shots, but it really doesn’t affect her. Her shot is like nothing I’ve seen in my years coach.”
Nebraska coach Connie Yori doesn’t focus on a what shot looks like, although she acknowledged that Mitchell has a “very nice shot.”
“There’s a difference between shot takers and shot makers,” Yori said. “And she’s a shot maker.”
60.6Mitchell’s three-point shooting percentage
58.6Mitchell’s two-point shooting percentage
Mitchell is averaging 24.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3 blocks. She has hit 20 of 33 three-pointers and 34 of 58 two-point field goals.
Adams needs Mitchell in the lane because of her height. She’s working on finishing more around the rim, but she’s strong.
Adams is the type of coach who wants to get in the mix during practice in order to show his players the correct way to run a play or set a screen or get a rebound.
“She sets screens on me,” Adams said. “Now, I’m 45, (6-foot-1), 185 pounds. She nails me. Wow. She’s just so strong. A special player, special kid.”
Mitchell is thriving in Adams’ system, which he describes as “full-court, fastbreak, speed you up on defense. We play as fast as we can, and she wins every line drill because of her athletic ability.”
Adams first saw Mitchell play when he was the Wellington middle school coach and was hosting a camp.
“I had heard about her — ‘oh, you need to see Mitchell.’ She was a gangly 11-year-old,” Adams said. “You could still see something in her.”
But Mitchell transferred to Derby to live with her mom. She moved back to live with her dad before her senior year.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Mitchell. Especially because she was leaving friends. An additional fear was the possibility of a rocky transition.
“Girls can be so judgmental and rude, so how would it go? I’m moving back to Wellington. I’m beating out somebody. How will they react to that?” Mitchell said. “It’s been pretty smooth, though.”
Probably the most affected player is Lauryn Snipes, a 6-1 junior who is being recruited as a shooting guard, has scholarship offers from Southern Illinois and Central Missouri.
I want us to have a successful season. I have one goal. And if that means Grace gets her shots and I get less shots and don’t score as much, that’s fine.
Wellington junior Lauryn Snipes
Snipes scored a team-high 16.6 points in 2014-15, but is averaging six fewer points, second to Mitchell.
Snipes doesn’t care.
“As long as my team keeps doing what what we’re doing, that’s totally fine with me,” Snipes said.
She and Mitchell have been friends since they started playing summer basketball together in 2014. They hung out together most days and talked every day during the school year, Mitchell said.
All either wants is to win.
“I’m a senior, and I just want to win,” Mitchell said. “I want to do whatever I need to do scoring wise, rebounding wise. I didn’t win in my first three seasons. We did all right. But I just wanted to win.”
While Derby didn’t win more than eight games in each of Mitchell’s first three seasons, Wellington’s 2014-15 season ended in heartbreak with a Class 4A-I sub-state championship loss to seven-win Rose Hill.
“I want us to have a successful season,” Snipes said. “I have one goal. And if that means Grace gets her shots and I get less shots and don’t score as much, that’s fine.”