The Kentucky Wildcats are entering the season with a roster that we are used to seeing in the Calipari era, as they have one of the youngest rosters in the country.
Calipari loaded up on talented freshmen for the 2023-24 season as he looks to get back to the level of winning that we are used to seeing.
However, with a talented group of freshmen, it is important to have some veteran leadership on the roster as well to lead the freshmen in the right direction.
Calipari knows better than anyone the importance of having veterans paired with talented freshmen. Therefore, he went out and got West Virginia transfer Tre Mitchell to help anchor the frontcourt.
#4 Tre Mitchell
- Height: 6-foot-9
- Weight: 231 lbs.
- Class: Graduate Student
- Position: Forward
- Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
- High School Recruit Rankings: No. 84 nationally, No. 21 C via 247 Sports Composite.
Mitchell started his college career at UMass, where he averaged 17.7 points as a freshman in 2019-20, as well as 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game. Mitchell was the first UMass freshman to earn All-Atlantic 10 honors since Marcus Camby did it in 1993-94 under John Calipari.
That year also saw Mitchell average 19.6 points per game in A-10 games, second in the league behind only Obi Toppin of Dayton, who was named the National Player of the Year, to give you an idea of just how good the new Cat was.
As a sophomore, Mitchell increased his PPG to 18.8 and averaged 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals, earning him First-Team All-Atlantic 10 honors.
Mitchell then took his talents to Texas for the 2021-22 season, where he started in 17 of the 24 games he played in.
Statistically, that was his worst season as a college player, as he averaged 8.7 points, 4 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks. He also shot a career-low 32% from three.
In 2022-23, he made the move to West Virginia, where he started 32 of 34 games and averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 36% from deep.
Kentucky fans already got a glimpse of what Mitchell can provide this season during the team’s trip to Canada this summer when they brought home the gold medal in the GLOBL JAM event.
Mitchell was the fourth leading scorer in the entire event as he averaged 14.5 points to go along with 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1 steal per game. He also shot 57% from the field and 44% from three.
Kentucky has needed a consistent three-point shooter in the frontcourt the last few years, and it looks like they are going to have just that with Mitchell this season. While he won’t be the most talented player on this team, Mitchell may very well be the key to Kentucky Basketball finally modernizing its offense.
That’s because Mitchell’s shooting not only helps space the floor, but he’s also a good passer who can find open guys cutting to the rim when opposing players come out to guard him on the perimeter.
It also helps that he’s a battle-tested veteran who can help lead a Kentucky team that will have as many as six freshmen logging significant minutes to open the season.
“He’s been great for this group as a connector and as a guy who helps facilitate. He’s got so many layers to his game. You guys are just getting a chance to see a little of that. His passing, his feel, we’ll have to find opportunities for him around the basket as well. He’s a matchup problem for guys because of his ability to shoot the ball and his ability to play out in space,” said assistant coach Orlando Antigua of Mitchell prior to the regular season starting.
Kentucky’s rim protection is a big question mark without all three of their 7-footers available, as Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic, and Ugonna Onyenso will likely miss the opening of the season.
Antigua doesn’t think Mitchell gets enough credit for his defensive ability.
“I don’t think Tre gets enough credit. Obviously, everyone can see his ability to move the ball, to pass the ball, to shoot the ball. He did have three blocks in that game, and he’s got great timing, great anticipation.”
The amount of respect teams will have to give Mitchell on the perimeter will open up driving lanes for the likes of DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards to get to and finish at the rim, which is what they both excel at.
There is no doubt that Mitchell was a huge addition to the 2023-24 roster, and we saw just how impactful he can be during the games this summer.
Mitchell shined bright in his Kentucky debut in Canada, and we should all expect him to shine bright when the season officially starts, and this team begins their quest for No. 9.
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