After testing NBA Draft waters, Matt Mitchell returns to SDSU for senior season

Then-junior+forward+Matt+Mitchell+fires+a+jumper+during+the+Aztecs%27+81-64+win+over+Long+Island+University+on+Nov.+22%2C+2019+at+Viejas+Arena.

Sam Mayo

Then-junior forward Matt Mitchell fires a jumper during the Aztecs' 81-64 win over Long Island University on Nov. 22, 2019 at Viejas Arena.

by Luis Lopez, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball forward Matt Mitchell has opted out of the NBA Draft process to return for his senior year with the Aztecs, he announced on Twitter Friday morning.

“After exploring my options and discussions with both my family and the coaching staff, I have decided to return to San Diego State for my senior season,” Mitchell said on Twitter.

Mitchell had initially declared for the draft back in April, but because he did not hire an agent, he was able to maintain his college eligibility.

“(Returning to SDSU) was all about me being ready, the situation being right,” Mitchell said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

With Mitchell officially staying on the Mesa, he now comes in as a strong candidate for Mountain West preseason Player of the Year alongside Boise State’s Derrick Alston Jr. 

As a first-team All-Mountain West selection last season, Mitchell played in all 32 games for the Aztecs, starting the last 19 and averaging 12.2 points per game along with 4.8 rebounds.

In addition to his individual campaign last year, Mitchell also cemented his legacy after scoring his 1000th point with SDSU, one of only 34 players in program history to do so. 

Mitchell’s return bolsters an Aztec roster that has added transfers following the departures of guard KJ Feagin and forwards Yanni Wetzell and Nolan Narain this past offseason.

Former Northridge guard Terrell Gomez and former Maryland forward Joshua Tomaic will be coming in as grad transfers next year, and while they will be looking to make an immediate impact for SDSU, Mitchell’s return will help bring a sense of familiarity to next year’s squad. 

Then-junior forward Matt Mitchell holds up a piece of the net after the Aztecs defeated New Mexico 82-59 on Feb. 11, claiming the Mountain West regular-season title at Viejas Arena. (Kareem Jones)

While Mitchell will be putting a potential NBA career on hold, for now, an extra season with SDSU may be mutually beneficial for both program and player. 

“Specific feedback I got was more or less on my body, how I was keeping up with the pandemic, as well as percentages and how I felt within our offense, how I felt I would translate my game to the next level,” Mitchell said. “It’s all about being consistent and being a leader.”

It wasn’t a surefire guarantee that Mitchell was going to be drafted, but with him adding another year of college experience onto his resume, it could be just what NBA scouts need to see to solidify his case for the next level. 

Mitchell said he probably would have had a better shot at getting drafted if the Aztecs played on national television in the canceled NCAA Tournament.

“If we would have had the tournament, I think my chances would have been better to possibly not come back for my senior year,” Mitchell said. “I think everything right now is in the position for me to just come back and play alongside these guys and lead them to hopefully another Mountain West championship and potentially another March Madness trip to the tournament.”

After a season that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Aztecs will now try to book a ticket to the NCAA Tournament and rectify a season where they felt they were truly one of the country’s top contenders for a national championship.

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