POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2011
Sometimes when you roll the dice, you come up snake eyes.
The Hawaii men’s basketball team took a chance on dynamic junior college guard DeShawn Mitchell among its 2011-12 recruiting class, but it was a gamble that didn’t pay off for the Rainbow Warriors.
UH coach Gib Arnold confirmed Friday that the 6-foot-5 Mitchell of Snow College (Utah), one of six players to sign with UH for next season, was deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA and will not join the team.
The good news: UH gets an open scholarship back to hand out to a worthy player for next season, if one can be found at this late stage. Or, Arnold could save it for the future.
Arnold hinted that contingencies were in place.
“You know, we’ll see who we can get in, but this wasn’t a total surprise to us,” Arnold said. “We knew he had quite a road to climb and when we’re able to take a chance, take a chance. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out. But we knew he had a pretty big hill to climb, so we’ve got some options, and we’ll see. We’ll see if they fit.”
Mitchell’s checkered past — he had several short-lived stops since graduating from talent-rich Oak Hill Academy (Va.) in 2007 — went along with his considerable scoring ability.
After Oak Hill, he attended Monmouth Academy in New Jersey before entering college.
Mitchell started his college career as a reserve at UNLV in 2008-09, but was gone after one season.
The talented yet nomadic native of New Jersey averaged 23.8 points per game — fourth best among all JUCO players — on 51 percent shooting from the field at Snow before he was dismissed from the team for verbal disagreements with his head coach.
He remained enrolled in classes, keeping his hopes alive to play Division I ball again. UH was his staunchest supporter — with the caveat that he lived up to the academic benchmarks — and Mitchell rewarded the Rainbows with his signature in the spring.
But Mitchell didn’t satisfy the NCAA with enough transferable credits toward graduation as a player three years out from his last Division I stop.
Calls to Mitchell’s cell phone went unanswered.
“Yeah (it’s tough) but you know, it is what it is,” Arnold said. “It happens in recruiting, where sometimes guys just don’t make it. You can sit there and cry about it, or you can just go on. And we’re going to wish DeShawn all the best. But we’re going to move on, we’ll be OK. We’d rather have him with us, but he’s got to fulfill academic requirements and commitments to play here. It’s just that simple, and if you don’t do it, you need to go somewhere else. That’s just the nature of Division I basketball.”