Sunday, August 10, 2014

Uno En Uno With: Donovan Mitchell, Louisville-Commit

ZS: What factors played into you choosing Louisville, and how did the process play out?

DM: When I got the offer from Louisville, I was really excited about them. I really knew I wanted to go out there and see them. I would say about a week and a half ago, I kind of knew I wanted to go there but I just wanted to visit the campus and see it for myself.

As soon as I got there, I just knew this was the place for me. From the start. As soon as I pulled up, I knew I wanted to go there. 

ZS: You've been sifting through offers all year now. Who recruited you the hardest out of everyone?

DM: I would say Louisville.

 They've really been recruiting me for a month. They've just been calling and talking to me non-stop. On top of that, their fan support is great. Their fans show a lot of love to everyone they hear that the program is recruiting. It's a great feeling. Coach (Kenny) Johnson and coach (Rick) Pitino had both been talking to me. It's a relief to finally have made a decision. 

ZS: What do you envision as your role in this system?

DM: I see myself fitting in as a guy who is able to go out there on defense and work as hard as possible and get the turnovers that will lead to our offense. That's something I've prided myself on as a player throughout my high school career.

 I feel it fits perfectly with coach Pitino's system. It's the help I think will translate to success. Every year is a championship year at Louisville, expectations-wise. I feel like this year and next year, we can make a big push to win a national championship. 

ZS: Was it tough to turn down some of those schools, such as Providence, that were hounding you throughout the recruitment process?

DM: It was. It was very tough to say no to all those schools. I completely feel for all the schools that I turned down. In the end, it was the best decision for me. Fortunately, I've had some experience of switching schools and kind of having to tell a school "no" for a bigger school.

 Leaving Canterbury for Brewster Academy, I kind of know what to expect. People aren't going to be happy with me, with my decision. Some people are going to be upset. I'm kind of used to that already. I feel like it was the best decision for me. I feel if people truly care about me, then they'll be happy for me. 

ZS: Did you expect to have this process all wrapped up by this point?

DM: I didn't see myself committing before September, for the longest time.

 I was going to commit on my birthday, September 7th. Just seeing the school made me want to make the decision much quicker. I thought about it. In the long run, it will help me because I'll know where I'm going. I won't have to worry about different coaches coming in and watching me.

 I feel like I've been able to lift that burden off, by making this decision. Now I'm just able to worry about improving myself, to get myself Louisville-ready and academically get myself Louisville-ready as well. 

ZS: What aspects of your game have you worked to refine?

DM: My shooting has improved tremendously. That was kind of the big question with everyone, wondering if I could shoot. No one thought I could.

 I worked at it, came out and shot the hell out of the ball. I feel like that and just being hungry every game, playing like there's no tomorrow, just playing aggressive, those are all things I've improved with. 

Being able to have confidence and impacting every possession has been huge for me. Playing like there's no other game, like every game is the last game of the year. 

Just playing with that hunger and energy, just being able to impact every play.

 Whether it's a block or a steal or whether it's communicating in a way that can lead to a block or a steal, I just want to have an impact on the game on every play.

ZS: You hail from a baseball family. You started off with baseball and then discovered basketball and played both. When did you decide that basketball was right for you?

DM: I had a feeling, I would say, around 8th grade. I wanted to pursue basketball. I was still playing both. My sophomore year, I broke my wrist playing baseball. 

After that, I kind of decided 100 percent, no doubt, that I wasn't playing baseball at all. Basketball was my thing. 

ZS: You've established a basketball brotherhood with  Fordham-commit Eric Paschall. How has he helped your game grow? How do you guys push each other off the court?

DM: I've been friends with Eric since I was about eight. We go way back. It helps that we've been able to grow up together, play the game of basketball together. 

We've pushed each other for our entire lives. Now to see that we're making it in college, being able to go to college, it's just an incredible feeling. We grew up with another kid, (Notre Dame-commit) Matt Ryan. Us three really, being from the same (Westchester County, N.Y.) area, all going to high Division-I schools on full scholarships, it's a blessing. 

All of us have been truly blessed to have grown up playing against each other and pushing each other. If one guy has a 30-point game the next guy will say "Ok, now I'll have a 32-point game." Little stuff just like that, for fun, has pushed us to where we are now. 

ZS: What are your goals and aspirations heading into your senior year at Brewster Academy? 

DM: First is to win the whole thing again. That's definitely a huge goal. No team has ever won back-to-back championships for Brewster. 

Our goal is to win it twice. Just to have fun, just to go out there and play every game like it's my last, that's what I'm looking for.