By Albert Robledillo
2021 class Belgian Ajay Mitchell has announced his commitment to UC Santa Barbara. The 2002-born point guard will spend this season in Limburg, in the Belgian top division, where he made his debut last February at 18 years old. Next summer, he will be joining UCSB as part of their 2021 recruiting class.
"I have a good relationship with the coaches", Mitchell tells Eurohopes: "We have been talking for two years and I really believe they get me into the next level. I will be able to play in the first year directly and that's great. And Santa Barbara, California, it's a really good place to live in and keep working hard".
Mitchell is one of the top international prospects taking the college route as he is currently part of the Eurohopes 2002 top-50 ranking. He chose UCSB over Davidson, UNCG and UTSA. "It was a pretty hard choice but I am comfortable with it".
A solid performance in the 2018 U16 European Division B Championship in Sarajevo put Mitchell on the map. After a breakout championship in the 2019 U18 European tournament that led to the interest from some of the top academies in Europe, Mitchell joined Nanterre but he left the team in December when he decided to play for Limburg in the city of Hasselt, 50 kilometres away from Liege, his hometown.
"In Belgium, the league is very good but if I want to reach NBA or Euroleague level, I think the best situation is go to the NCAA", says Mitchell whose father played college basketball at Norfolk State (1983-87) and whose sisters played college volleyball (Alexis, at University of Wisconsin, and Ashley at Northwest Missouri State). "They explained me college is the best experience for a teenager. An opportunity that is worth to see".
Standing at 6'3, Mitchell is a floor general with a strong personality and a pretty polished skillset. He is a great shooter (39% from the long range averaging 5 three-point attempts in the last U18 European Div. B Championship) with a deep range but struggles against contact due to an undeveloped frame. "[Being at UCSB] Can help me to get better physically, gaining weight and explosiveness", says Mitchell: "I can bring directly my IQ, shooting and my playmaking skills. Now, the most important is to get more explosive and stronger. That's why I wanted to move to the States", says Mitchell.