Tyrone Mitchell set the record for steals at Northwestern State University in Louisiana with 264 during his career and the started all four years as a Demon.
As a senior, he was All-Southland Conference second team. He played professionally in Germany, Romania (four years), Hungary, Belarus, Bulgaria and had chances to play in France and Austria.
Last year, Mitchell worked as an assistant coach for Baton Rouge Community College. In August 2015, Mitchell decided to take his experience to Xavier University to become assistant coach for the Gold Rush men’s basketball team.
“We are excited to welcome Tyrone Mitchell to the family,” said Rush Head Coach Dannton Jackson. “He has great experience not only as a player at Northwestern State and overseas professionally, but also as a coach at Baton Rouge Community College.”A New Iberia, La., native, Mitchell attended Northwestern as a point guard from 2002-2006. Although his team made it to the NCAA tournament and beat Iowa, the Demons weren’t always winning.
“My first year in college was fun,” said Mitchell. “When I was a freshman, we won six games. We lost 21.” It was a learning experience, however. Mitchell says it was the most adversity he had ever experienced playing basketball.
Losing 21 games his freshman year brought him back to reality; he realized basketball was a team effort. He learned to gain more trust in his teammates and work even harder. On March 17, 2006, Mitchell and his Demons made it to the NCAA tournament and had a 64-63 upset against a third-seeded Iowa team. The win came in the final seconds. His teammate, Jermaine Wallace scored the fade-away three at the buzzer to shock the Hawkeyes and Mitchell was in the line-up at that time. “I feel like we kind of moved a mountain by representing for the small schools. I just felt like that was a life victory,” said Mitchell. “It was a David and Goliath match-up, and we won.”
His college experiences also led him to his professional career overseas. He played in five countries and had offers to play in two more. His last team was the Tagu Mures of Romania in 2013.“It’s always a pleasure to get paid to do what you love,” said Mitchell. “I’ve been playing basketball all my life and never really had a different job. I came home for the summer, hung out with my family and friends, and then went back to Europe.”There were, however, downsides to playing basketball, both collegiately and professionally. With his birthday falling in November, right in the midst of basketball season, he hadn’t had a birthday at home since he was 17.“Then I had my little girl and everything changed,” said Mitchell.
After returning from playing, Mitchell took a coaching job at BRCC. When he first started coaching, he had to make the adjustment from seeing the game as a player to seeing it as a coach. However, the transition from player to coach was an easy one for Mitchell because he knew every detail of the game. “In the end, though basketball is basketball. You see what you get and you get what you see,” Mitchell said. Next, Mitchell joined the coaching staff at Xavier, filling the shoes of former assistant coach Alfred Blue. “I thought Xavier would be a great opportunity for me,” said Mitchell. “It kind of helped me move up the coaching ladder.” It’s been half year so far, and Mitchell has enjoyed his time here. He says that Xavier has a great atmosphere even though it’s different from where he played. The students at Xavier take academics more seriously than elsewhere, and it’s a predominantly black school, whereas NSU had been predominantly white. Xavier is close-knitt, and that goes not only for the students but also for the Gold Rush.
“You develop a family atmosphere and I look at them as little brothers. People tend to think I go to school here,” Mitchell said.Mitchell had tough shoes to fill after Blue left, according to Gold Rush senior RJ Daniels. “Coach Mitchell is reliable, a hard worker, a friend, and a great coach,” said Daniels. “Replacing AJ from last year wasn’t easy, but Mitchell has stepped up to the plate and filled the shoes that AJ left.”
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