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We’ve come to expect certain things of athletes in sports today. Pledges of good sportsmanship, aggressive play on the field and courtroom, attending college, or signing a lucrative or creative endorsement deal. Donovan Mitchell has done none of these things. Beginning when he was nine years old and before he was even drafted into college, Mitchell had undergone one season of playing high school basketball without ever touching a basketball; rather, it was a jacked-up football tucked awkwardly under his arm with a sneer plastered across his face as if he were about to tell you sports wasn’t for him.

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His Early Life

Growing up in Sharonville, Kentucky, Donovan Mitchell had a love for basketball from a very young age. He participated in AAU tournaments and always enjoyed playing against older kids. After graduating from high school, he attended Louisville, where he played for Rick Pitino and coach Rick Majerus. Mitchell was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. Following his rookie season, Mitchell was named an All-Star and won the Kia Rookie of the Year Award. 

Mitchell’s journey to the NBA has been anything but easy. In his rookie season, Mitchell battled injuries and had to work hard to become a key player on Utah’s roster. Through it all, he never stopped working and relied on his faith to remain positive and continue believing in himself. For Mitchell, this journey has been nothing short of inspirational. 

Today, Donovan Mitchell is one of the most important players on the Utah Jazz and one of the most promising young stars in the NBA. His story is an example of how anything is possible if you set your mind to it and work hard enough.

Long Journey to the NBA

Donovan Mitchell has a long road to the NBA. Despite his obvious athleticism and scoring ability, Mitchell wasn’t highly recruited. He played collegiately at Louisville, where he was overshadowed by teammates like Russ Smith and Marco Belinelli. Mitchell decided to play in the Israeli league after his college career ended and scored over 20 points per game while averaging almost five rebounds per game. Finally, Mitchell was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 22nd overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Mitchell immediately showed flashes of his potential, averaging 13 points and 5 assists in his rookie season. However, playing for a mismatched team in an inconsistent league caused Mitchell to struggle. He was traded to the Boston Celtics before the 2018-2019 season and showed significant improvement, averaging 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game. Mitchell is currently one of the cornerstone players for the Utah Jazz and looks poised to lead his team to postseason success this year.

Mitchell’s Motivating Story

Utah Jazz small forward Donovan Mitchell was drafted 22nd overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2017 NBA draft. Blessed with a natural scoring ability, Mitchell flourished in college where he averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Since being drafted, Mitchell has worked tirelessly to improve his game both on and off the court. One of the driving forces behind this dedication has been Mitchell’s mother Maureen; a single parent who has tirelessly worked to provide for her son and help him achieve his goals.

Advice for Young Players: A Fresh Perspective on The Game

The NBA is a fascinating and demanding sport. It requires dedication, strength, durability and high pain tolerance. But there is one attribute that sets NBA players apart from the average joe: tenacity. Many players have to overcome adversity to achieve their goal of playing in the league. Here are five pieces of advice for young players who want to make it to the NBA: 

  1. Don’t give up on your dream. There will be times when things will get tough, but you need to keep pushing through. The NBA is not easy and there are plenty of talented players who have failed in the past. But if you don’t try, you won’t ever know what could have been. 
  2. Take care of your body. You’re going to be putting in a lot of work and playing wearing an incredibly rigorous sport. Make sure you take the time to eat properly, drink plenty of water and rest when needed. Too often young players forget about their physical health and end up injuring themselves due to overtraining or neglecting their health altogether. 
  3. Pursue education and training early on in your career. Mastery of any sport starts with practice and hard work.

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