Whilst most 17 year olds are relaxing and enjoying their summer break from school, Hoods Point Guard, Luke Mitchell spent his time playing for England in Austria and in front of NBA All Star, Luol Deng, back on home soil.
Despite being a year younger than most of his teammates, Luke was the starting point guard for England u18 at the recent FIBA European Championships, playing 9 games in 11 days.
The team finished with 5 wins, beating Albania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Estonia and Georgian en route to a respectable 7th place finish from 24 teams.
Throughout the tournament, Luke averaged 26 minutes per game (30+ minutes in 3 of the 9 games), 4.6 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game and importantly, less than 1 turnover per game.
His highest score was 10 points against Switzerland, but he hit big threes when the pressure was on throughout the tournament and was the second leading rebounder for England, despite only being 6ft tall.
Having returned from Austria, Luke was then selected to participate in the Deng Top 50.
Deng Top 50 is a 4-day residential camp where the nation’s Top 50 u19 talents are selected to put their abilities to the test in a bid to be ranked #1, hosted by NBA All-Star Luol Deng. Each of the 50 players is hand-selected by a consortium of coaches and basketball affiliates from all over the UK.
On Day 1, all 50 players are placed into teams and assigned coaches to work with. Luke was assigned Coach Joe Mantegna from Blair Academy in the US, which was Luol Deng’s High School. On both Offensive and Defensive Evaluations, Coach Mantegna gave Luke above average ratings, including a staggering 4.8/5.0 for Basketball IQ (with the exception of Post Moves and Blocked Shots!!!)
The camp consists of a series of individual drills, combine testing, classroom analysis, strength and conditioning training before finishing off with competitive games ahead of being ranked 1-20 on the final morning of Day 4. (details of the ranking system can be found by clicking here)
Luke was ranked #9 on Day 1, before reaching #6 an Days 2 & 3 and finishing a very impressive #7 overall. For the full list of player rankings, click here
As Luke returned to training with the Hoods, he commented, “It was an awesome opportunity for me to compete against and to compare myself with the other top prospects from across the UK and Europe. I’ve learnt new things about the game and about me as a player this summer and will be looking to take what I have learnt into the upcoming season in order to help the Hoods compete for the Championship in both the League and Cup now we have stepped up to Division 2.”
Club Captain, Bruce Lauder added, “We are privileged to have a player of Luke’s calibre playing for us. He is Nottingham born and bred and we are lucky he has chosen to stay with us and represent his home town. His achievements this summer are exceptional, especially given his young age and small-ish height! To be ranked #7 out of the UK’s top basketball talent and the 4th ranked guard is an incredible achievement and one we at the Hoods are very proud of. His experiences will be of help to him and his teammates this season as they face the new challenges of Division 2, but with talent like Luke, there is nothing to stop us replicating the 2004 Nottingham Knights team and winning the treble at the first time of asking!”
The Hoods take to the court at 8pm on Saturday 12th September for the first game of the season in the Patron’s Cup against much fancied Ipswich Basketball, but you can get a sneak preview of some of the players at 7.15pm on Friday 4th September as they take to the court in a Memorial match for much loved friend and teammate Ethan McKen. More details on the match can be found by clicking here.