For forward Charles Mitchell, basketball is simply a game of confidence, toughness and effort.
The six-foot, eight-inch tall junior transferred to Tech from Maryland over the past summer to be closer to his ailing grandmother.
He grew up nearby in Marietta, and his homecoming season so far has been productive for both himself and the Jackets.
Life as a Tech student is different than what Mitchell became accustomed to at Maryland, mostly due to the academics.
Mitchell feels that he did well in his first semester but that it required a lot more studying and focus on schoolwork. Luckily for Mitchell, adapting to a new team was not an issue.
“I fit right in perfectly with the team and it just felt great,” Mitchell said.
His impact has certainly been noticed by the team. He is second on the Jackets in points per game and field goal percentage, and his 69 offensive rebounds rank first in the ACC and eighth in the nation.
He is also one of the few players in the country to record more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds, which allows the Jackets plenty of opportunities to score second-chance points.
“It’s all about effort, and I tell people that all the time,” Mitchell said. “Rebounding is not a skill; it’s all about effort and wanting it and going to get it. That’s my mentality, and it helps our team get second-chance points. It’s something I can do to help my team and get an advantage in the game, and I’m good at it, so that’s what I am going to do.”
Mitchell’s primary goal coming into this season was to be the best rebounder that he could
He works to be a dominant physical presence down low and make it tough for opponents to control the ball after a shot.
The team has played a few close games against strong ACC opponents over the past few weeks, including two heartbreaking losses both against No. 8 Notre Dame.
Mitchell feels that the team’s confidence allows them to play well against those teams, and that they can improve even in defeat.
“Everything is a process, whether we had won or lost that game, we can still see how we can become a better team just by watching film,” Mitchell said. “There are 18 games in the ACC, and every game is going to be challenging, especially against the top of the conference. Going into games like [the 2OT loss to Notre Dame], we have a lot of confidence with the whole team behind you, and it gives us the amount of energy that we need to play with every game.”
The Jackets are currently struggling beyond the three point line, shooting just 26 percent as a team on the season, their lowest mark in at least 14 years.
Mitchell feels that the talent is there to improve, but that the players have to be more confident in their abilities.
“We have great shooters, but it all comes down to confidence and making as many shots as you can,” Mitchell said. “You can’t be thinking about the shot you just took; you have to figure out a way to plan the next shot you take and shoot it like it’s going in. It all has to do with the confidence we have in our players to just take the next shot and play basketball.”
Mitchell is one of five new frontcourt players on the team this year, but he is the only one with previous ACC experience.
He feels that it is a great benefit, as it has familiarized him with the players, coaches and systems in the conference.
Conference games are generally the hardest fought contests on the schedule, and he believes that the game can be won by the team that plays with more heart.
“It just comes down to who will play the hardest, strongest, toughest, and who is going to be the most physical and most dominant down low in the game,” Mitchell said.
Despite the Jackets’ 0-5 conference record as of press time, Mitchell feels that the team is growing mentally and learning from their experiences.
“We’re all building off of our mistakes, just small things that you can fix overnight,” Mitchell said. “In that part of the game I feel like we’ve grown, whereas physically we are always going to be dominant. It just comes down to who is going to come out and play tougher that game, and hopefully that’s us each and every game.”