Krysten Peek has been covering high school and grassroots basketball for the past seven years for Rivals.com. In this series, she takes us back to when some of the NBA’s biggest stars were just getting started in high school.
The first time I saw Donovan Mitchell play was in July 2014 at the Fab 48 Tournament in Las Vegas. His team, The City (New York), was playing in a small back gym at Bishop Gorman High School. Mitchell dropped 28 points, including a deep three to send the game into overtime, and then hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer for the win.
Earlier this NBA season I caught up with Mitchell after a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. I was reminiscing about that AAU game, and how it’s still one of my favorite grassroots games because of his performance.
BIG GUARD💪🏾 Damn came a long way 😂😂😂 https://t.co/khFJEXZyRC— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) April 29, 2020
Mitchell smiled at me and shook his head.
“You know that’s the only game-winning buzzer-beater I’ve ever hit in my career?” Mitchell said. “That game was awesome.”
During the summer of 2014, Mitchell was a four-star recruit who was ranked No. 101 in the nation heading into his senior year. He had a breakout summer season and picked up some late high-major offers from Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, UConn, Villanova, Indiana and Maryland.
“I have a chance to showcase my game at a higher level on a national stage at a big program with a lot of tradition,” Mitchell told Rivals.com.
The 6-foot-2 guard shot up the rankings his senior year playing at the Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and finished as at top-35 prospect.
Mitchell played two seasons at Louisville, and during his sophomore season he averaged 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He declared for the NBA draft and was selected No. 13 overall in 2017 by the Denver Nuggets before his rights were traded to the Utah Jazz.
During his rookie season, Mitchell won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and was named to the All-Rookie First Team, but lost out on Rookie of the Year honors to Ben Simmons.
Two short years later, Mitchell was selected as an NBA All-Star and averaged 24.2 points. 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game before the season was suspended March 11 due to COVID-19.
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