Like a lot of college students, Tony Mitchell has a story about what he did on summer vacation. The North Texas standout’s tale is just more interesting than most.
Mitchell spent a few days last week at the Amare Stoudemire Skills Academy in Chicago working out with some of the top big men in college basketball — not to mention the host, the New York Knicks’ All-Star forward.
“It went well,” Mitchell said this week after returning to UNT. “There were a lot of good players there. Everyone was competing and getting better.”
Mitchell was one of 14 players at the camp. Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas, Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Kansas center Jeff Withey were some of the other high-profile players at the three-day academy.
Mitchell had the longest wingspan of them all, at 7 feet, 3 inches.
The players at the camp went through drills and competed for spots in the LeBron James Skills Academy, which will take place July 6-9 in Las Vegas.
Similar camps were held for guards and forwards at the same time as the Stoudemire camp. Players from the three camps will fill the 20 spots at the James camp, where they will participate in a series of games. Those games are open to NBA scouts.
The roster for the James camp will be announced next Friday.
Mitchell said he felt good about his performance at his camp, where he drew the praise of one NBA scout.
“If he can improve offensively, he will be able to make a lot of money,” the scout told ESPN.com on the condition that he not be identified.
The website named Mitchell as one of the top four players at the camp, where the UNT sophomore says he was able to improve and identify skills that he needs to continue to develop.
“I worked on my footwork and the coaches helped me with my jump shot,” Mitchell said. “It was just an overall skill evaluation. I learned a lot.”
Mitchell said that he can continue to improve in every area, from scoring to rebounding.
New UNT head coach Tony Benford said before Mitchell went to the Stoudemire camp that he thought his top returning player would benefit from the experience.
Mitchell became eligible at UNT after the fall 2011 semester and went on to average 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game on his way to earning Freshman of the Year honors in the Sun Belt Conference.
Playing in summer events with some of the top players in the country is nothing new for Mitchell, who played with the U.S. team in the FIBA under-19 world championships before his freshman season at UNT.
Mitchell led the U.S. team with an average of 7.6 rebounds a game and also averaged 5.0 points. He also was a member of the U.S. team that won the goal medal at the 2010 under-18 FIBA Americas championships.
“I have known a lot of those guys since high school and have played against them on the summer circuit,” Mitchell said of the players at the Stoudemire camp.
What was new for Mitchell was having the opportunity to not only meet Stoudemire, but work with him.
“It was cool to meet Amare,” Mitchell said. “You can tell that the money he’s made hasn’t affected him.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .