Column: Jordan Schakel and Matt Mitchell rank among best duos in program history

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Alexa Oslowski

San Diego State men’s basketball senior guard Jordan Schakel and senior forward Matt Mitchell pictured during the 2020-21 season.

by Kyle Betz, Sports Editor

With a 23-4 record, Mountain West Conference tournament championship win and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after 2020’s events, San Diego State men’s basketball looked as if it had a chance to make a run in its 100th season in program history.

A first-round blowout loss to Syracuse probably wasn’t what SDSU envisioned, but that loss ultimately resulted in a much bigger blow — the loss of two seniors in guard Jordan Schakel and forward Matt Mitchell.

Schakel and Mitchell announced their 2021 NBA Draft declarations via Twitter on March 29 and March 31, respectively. The draft will take place on July 29.


Both players arrived to the Mesa in 2017 with sky-high hopes of a national championship. They didn’t quite get there, but rather departed with two regular-season MWC titles and two conference tournament trophies to go along with two NCAA Tournament appearances.

The senior tandem could have returned for a fifth-year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19, but will take their talents elsewhere.

Schakel signed with Octagon Basketball shortly after he declared for the NBA Draft. The agency currently represents top basketball players like Steph Curry, Bam Adebayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Schakel is a player who saw his production increase exponentially as he matured in an Aztec uniform.

The Torrance, Calif. native hopes to go pro after leading the Aztecs as the program’s all-time leader in free-throw percentage (87%), including an over-90% conversion rate from the charity stripe as an upperclassman.

What makes him stand out even more is his 3-point shooting ability, which Aztec fans know all too well. One of the best perimeter shooters in program history, Schakel ranked third-all time at SDSU with 225 career made 3-pointers.

This past season, Schakel was able to knock down 46.1% of his deep balls, ranking third-best in Division I play.

His 14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest were enough to give him All-MWC Second-Team honors. He also bagged two weekly conference awards and a spot on the MWC All-Tournament Team.

After SDSU’s 2020-21 season concluded, head coach Brian Dutcher said it was evident Schakel would move on to play professional basketball.

“We are fielding calls from NBA teams that are interested in him,” Dutcher said. “(Jordan) will have a fine professional career moving forward, whether it’s the NBA or overseas. He’s played well enough to put himself in that position to move on professionally.”

His four-year “running mate,” Mitchell, signed with Edge Sports International, Inc., who represents current NBA players Mychal Mulder and Juwan Morgan.

Mitchell notched 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and two assists per game in 2020-21 en route to becoming the MWC Player of the Year, MWC tournament MVP and AP All-American honorable mention. 

Mitchell’s 1,471 career points also place him sixth on the SDSU all-time scoring list.

Whether it was his first-career double-double to claim the MWC regular-season title in March 2020 or a career-high 35-point performance in a comeback attempt versus Brigham Young last December, it seemed like Mitchell’s leadership never wavered in an Aztec uniform.

Even when Mitchell had to come off the bench when the likes of Malachi Flynn, KJ Feagin and Yanni Wetzell were in the starting five, he could have searched for playing time elsewhere.

Instead, he took it in stride and waited for his opportunity. Despite starting only 19 games in 2019-20, Mitchell still ended up with All-MWC First-Team honors.

Even during a COVID-19 season with early-morning testing, masks and strict protocols to follow, Mitchell and Schakel also approached that as leaders, holding their teammates accountable away from the court.

“I tried not to have any expectations because I had no idea what was going to happen,” Schakel said. “A lot of the stuff has been kind of annoying and tedious at times, waking up to get tested. At the end of the day, we are playing basketball. At a time like this, I think we’re all thankful for that.”

Forever etched with the accomplishments of a 30-2 season one year ago, Mitchell didn’t forget to give props to SDSU fans for their support despite Viejas Arena sitting empty in 2020-21.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been great.” Mitchell said. “I’ve been grateful for the love I’ve received over these past four years. I feel like the connection between the fans and I have grown immensely. I definitely thank the San Diego State community, the fans, all the support they’ve given Jordan and I over these last four years and us being here on this ride because it’s been a great one. I’m happy and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

With senior guard Terrell Gomez also leaving SDSU to pursue professional basketball, the Aztecs are bringing in a slew of transfers to replace the trio: senior guard Matt Bradley (California), senior forward Tahirou Diabate (Portland) and senior forward Jaedon LeDee (TCU).

While these names could bring success, they simply won’t be able to replace Schakel and Mitchell and the impacts both had on SDSU.

Dutcher knows this — even more so on a personal level.

“Matt and Jordan have meant a lot to San Diego State basketball, but they mean a lot to me,” Dutcher said. “We’re both on the same four-year cycle. We started together: me as a head coach, them as freshmen. And so the four years of us being together has been gratifying, it’s been rewarding.”

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