Small player shows a big heart on the court

Men's Basketball Sports

A short, slender guard is waiting for his time on the court.

Deionta Mitchell hangs on the rim during Tuesday night's scrimmage at the annual tip-off party.

His palms are sweating and his heart is pounding, but after a quick breath, he is ready to be put in the game. Though the opposing team is full of 6-foot-7-inch monsters giggling as he steps foot on the court, he is not worried. Suddenly, this guard magically steals the ball, speeds through the monsters and scores before the big men can even make it down the court. “Who’s giggling now?” the guard thinks as he smiles to himself.

This guard is none other than senior Deionta Mitchell. Mitchell first came to Missouri Western last year as a junior with potential to be better, due to his speed, athleticism and solid work ethic. Since then, Mitchell has grown more and more into his potential and now stands as the go-to guard for the upcoming season.

“My favorite part of the game is that it teaches you about life and how to deal with adversity,” Mitchell said. “It teaches you toughness and dedication. To be a consistent shooter, you have to stay in the gym and work on your strength.”

Mitchell feels that among his physical abilities, he brings a good heart and a positive attitude to the team, which he feels is just as important.

“For a lot of people, when you’re up by 20 points, it’s easy to high-five and laugh and talk on the bench with each other,” Mitchell said. “But when you’re down ten points with about ten minutes left, that’s when you really see who has heart and who doesn’t, and who wants to step up to the plate.”

Though Mitchell has been noted for his speed and athleticism, he sometimes believes that people underestimate him because of his size. In addition to this, the Milwaukee native stays to himself and sometimes shies away from the media’s eye.

“The roster has me listed as 5’10, but I am a legit 5’7,” Mitchell said. “When they see a little guy like me, right away they are thinking that I am not really that good. To those people I say ‘Just watch me play, and you will really like it’,” Mitchell said with a slight smile.

Off the court, Mitchell has a very close relationship with his mother, that truly encourages and motivates him.

“I’m a momma’s boy,” Mitchell said. “I talk to her before every game. As long as I talk to her before every game, I’ll be alright.”

Before the season gets underway, Mitchell has already predicted that the men will have a better record then last year. Among three seniors, head basketball coach Tom Smith recruited six other juniors coming in from junior colleges. Smith also recruited some “big men,” with two 6-foot-8-inch juniors to fill the gap left after former player Brandon Beck graduated last year. Of these big players, Mitchell is very impressed by forward Justin Reid, who is a 250-pound Indiana native coming from Kankakee Community College.

“Whenever Justin gets the ball, it’s either a bucket or a foul,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also feels team chemistry will be more effective this year, as the three seniors have worked hard to keep their relationships solid and initiate brotherly love.

Fellow senior and roommate TJ Johnson feels that he, Mitchell and Lavonte Douglas have grown very close within the last year and want the other teammates to follow their footsteps.

“When I drive to the hole and need to kick it out to somebody for the three, he’s got me,” Johnson said. “He has my back and I have his back, both one and off the court.”

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