Despite year off, hoopster Mitchell makes U.S. U-19 team

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Tony Mitchell's fall from top-notch hoops recruit to obscurity and -- briefly -- near irrelevance was both swift and well documented. Prep Rally, among other sources, wrote about Mitchell's failure to meet NCAA standards and his subsequent unavailability to play for Missouri, the school he had signed for as a senior at Dallas (Texas) Pinkston High.

Former Pinkston star Tony Mitchell
Former Pinkston star Tony Mitchell

That, of course, followed on a Dallas Independent School District investigation of Pinkston's hasty transfer from a Florida diploma mill called Center of Life Academy (in Miami) to Pinkston High, with a handful of his previous academic credits deemed invalid by Dallas ISD itself.

In all, Mitchell missed an entire college basketball season, eventually forfeiting the idea of playing at Missouri and returning to his North Texas roots. Now, he's finally set to play at North Texas, after achieving fulfilling another notable achievement: He'll suit up for the U.S. Under-19 national team.

Mitchell was named as part of the 12-man squad for the U-19 team, which will compete at the U19 World Championships in Lithuania. It's the second consecutive year that Mitchell has been named to an age group national team, following his spot on the U.S. U-18 team in 2010 at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

Yet, as highlighted by the Dallas Morning News, making the national team after sitting out an entire year is a much more notable accomplishment for a player who has had more than his share of setbacks in recent months. In fact, Mitchell's different route to the national team was only highlighted by this paragraph from U.S.A. Basketball's release of its 12-man U19 roster:

Featured on the U.S. roster are 11 student-athletes who attended 11 different NCAA Division I schools in 2010-11 and one player (Carson) who completed his high school career this year. Eight conferences have representation on the USA roster as well.

Considering the fact that the roster includes 12 athletes, you can guess who the player who missed out on a college season was on the basis of elimination.

Of course, it also means that North Texas's college basketball team is about to feature a much more high profile contributor than Mean Green fans are accustomed to. At this point, seeing Mitchell on any college court will be a resolute step in the right direction.

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