Dee Mitchell didn’t take a shot, but still managed to be Mike Boynton’s MVP.
In the Oklahoma State basketball team’s 72-57 victory against TCU, Mitchell heard his name called and ran to the scorer's table to check in with 9:28 left in the first half.
It would make sense for Mitchell, a former walk-on, to be fazed.
He hadn’t played significant minutes in almost two months, when he made his first start on the road against Houston. OSU (11-11 overall, 1-8 Big 12) was at a low point and still searching for its first conference win.
Despite that, the game wasn’t too fast for him. He was composed and under control from the moment he stepped on the court.
He didn’t take a shot, but still managed to finish a game-high plus-18 and was a key part of breaking the Cowboys’ Big 12 losing streak.
“It was a collective effort from everybody,” Boynton said. “But I do want to point out, I wouldn’t be doing my job well if I didn’t, Dee Mitchell was the MVP of tonight’s game.
“The way he defended, and then the way he was able to keep things calm for us on the offensive end with all the other things going on on our team.”
The Cowboys were short-handed at guard coming into Wednesday’s game at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Lindy Waters and Avery Anderson were ruled out soon before tipoff. Then a few minutes into the game, Chris Harris left with a leg injury.
Mitchell was the next man up.
One of the Cowboys’ seniors had high praise for Mitchell, who was not made available to the media postgame.
“I think we pride ourselves this whole year on having guys step up when guys go down,” Thomas Dziagwa said. “He guards really well. He’s a great defender. Didn’t even take any shots. Guys just embody their role.”
Mitchell has come a long way from playing pickup games at the Colvin Center this past fall.
Mitchell walked on to the Cowboys for the 2018-19 season when OSU held open tryouts. First added only as a practice player, he was eventually moved to the roster.
Postgame, Likekele unintentionally personified something Boynton preaches that Mitchell has taken to heart.
“Luckily,” Likekele said before catching himself. “Not luckily, due to our work.”
Mitchell was ready for the moment against TCU because of his work.
As a player, Boynton has been in the position himself where he doesn’t know when he’s going to play next. It’s a tough situation to be in.
Boynton said Mitchell’s commitment to the program through that is admirable.
“Dee has always been a guy who has brought the right attitude every day,” Boynton said. “When you do that, things work out for you. They really do.
Our message to our team is, just give up yourself. Give whatever you can of yourself and it’ll come back to you. I think he’s a great example of that. He’s a kid that gives, gives, gives. And when it’s time for him to perform, that guy upstairs doesn’t forget. He shined a little light on him today.”