- By Jay Morrison Staff Writer
Wright State has not made a definitive declaration, but it certainly appears as if senior guard Justin Mitchell’s days on the basketball team are finished.
“That would be my guess,” coach Scott Nagy said. “We’ve not had any contact. I don’t even spend a lot of time thinking about it anymore. It’s unfortunate. It certainly wasn’t my decision that it go that way.”
Mitchell, still listed on the official roster on the team’s web site, asked for time away from for personal reasons two weeks ago. Nagy granted the request, which came after Mitchell played a season-low 15 minutes and an 86-81 victory at Oakland on Jan. 7.
WSU (15-6, 7-1 Horizon League) has gone 3-1 in Mitchell’s absence and sits tied for first place with defending champion Northern Kentucky.
Mitchell led the Raiders in rebounding (8.3) last year and is second this year (7.1), in addition to ranking third in scoring (11.1). He has played in 99 games during his four-year career, with 745 points and 513 rebounds.
“It hurts our team, no question about it,” Nagy said. “Where it’s really affected us is rebounding. He’s such a good rebounding guard. We’re not offensive rebounding like we had been, and just not finishing plays like we did.”
Mitchell started nine of the first 10 games while averaging 27.2 minutes. And after sophomore guard Cole Gentry, a transfer from South Dakota State, became eligible Dec. 16, Mitchell’s minutes went up to 28.3 per game.
But Gentry started at point guard instead of Mitchell in the Jan. 5 game at Detroit and Jan. 7 contest at Oakland, and Mitchell requested time away after that.
The first three games he missed were on the road, but Mitchell sat in the front row of seats behind the WSU bench for the Jan. 15 home game against Youngstown State and was slapping hands at times with his teammates, something that didn’t sit well with the coaches.
Nagy said allowing Mitchell to return after this much time away would send the wrong message.
“For the guys that have been here every day and working their tails off, some who don’t get to play at all, it would be really hard to justify a guy taking a break in the middle of the season and then letting him come back,” he said. “It’s not fair and I don’t think it sends a good message about the kind of program we are and how we want to operate.”
Schedule change: The Horizon League announced Wednesday the Feb. 16 Wright State home game against Northern Kentucky has been moved to 9 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The teams are tied for first place in the league at 7-1. The Raiders beat the Norse 84-81 at NKU on Jan. 11.