Written by Brett Vito
Pinkston-ex Tony Mitchell enrolls at UNT, could play in December
DENTON — The saga of Tony Mitchell, a touted basketball star who finished his high school career at Pinkston, took another turn Wednesday, when he arrived at North Texas.
Mitchell, The Dallas Morning News’ 2010 Player of the Year, signed with Missouri but was never certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center, preventing him from enrolling at the school.
Mitchell landed instead at UNT, where he has enrolled as a student. The 6-8 forward was ranked 12th nationally in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com and will become one of the highest-rated athletes in any sport to play for the Mean Green — if he clears a series of hurdles to gain his eligibility.
Mitchell will have to pass 24 credit hours at UNT before the end of the first semester of the 2011-12 school year. If he reaches that threshold, he will be eligible to play for the Mean Green in mid-December.
“What we like about North Texas is that he will be able to take classes and get acclimated academically,” said Pinkston coach Nicholas Smith, who accompanied Mitchell to campus Wednesday. “He won’t have to worry about practice or games. He will be able to just go to school.”
As a nonqualifier, Mitchell is not eligible to compete, practice or receive an athletic scholarship. He can receive financial aid based on need.
Mitchell declined through Smith to comment on his decision to enroll at UNT, the latest in a series of stops since he began his rise in Dallas-area basketball.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points and 13.2 rebounds per game as a senior at Pinkston after transferring from Center of Life Academy, a Miami prep school. But he did not graduate with his class at Pinkston in June because, he told SportsDay , he failed the math portion of the TAKS test by one point.
Mitchell’s eligibility status during his senior season was called into question in a WFAA-TV (Ch. 8) investigative report last summer. Sources told WFAA that 14 of the credits he earned from the Miami school were not transferable to Pinkston.
Pinkston principal Norma Villegas allowed Mitchell to make up the credits by taking the equivalent of nine makeup exams in two days, according to the report.
If Mitchell becomes eligible at UNT, he would provide a significant boost for a team in the midst of the best run of success in the program’s history. UNT has advanced to two of the last four NCAA Tournaments and is 16-4 this season.
In a statement, Missouri coach Mike Anderson called Mitchell “an outstanding young man” who “has shown great resolve during a difficult situation.”
“I’m very disappointed for Tony and his family,” Anderson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report