UVa's Mitchell Competes with Best Big Men in Country

Virginia senior Akil Mitchell says he has returned from the Nike Big Man Skills Academy a better basketball player -- and not just physically.

"I feel like just confidence-wise, it's helped my confidence so much more," said Mitchell. "Just knowing that somebody out there thinks that I'm one of the (top post players in the country). I feel like I played pretty well. I feel like I showcased what I could do. And I just feel like I'm at a different level, confidence-wise."

Mitchell was one of 14 college players invited to the big man camp.

"Oh, we learned a lot," he said. "We did a lot of defensive stuff; little things about how to post. They had NBA coaches there, too. So we learned a lot of NBA terminology, and things that can help you at the next level."

The camp coincided with the Nike Point Guard Skills Academy, which featured a dozen college players. Mitchell said the two camps often worked simultaneously.

"Yeah, it was awesome," Mitchell said. "Just to see so many great players. And like I said, there were NBA guys there. We ran against Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis. Just to play against such good competition, and to have such high-level NBA minds there, was a great experience."

Mitchell was a third-team All-ACC selection at UVa last year, finishing the season third in the conference in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg). And he says last week's experience has given him more motivation for his senior year.

"It's just really humbling, knowing that somebody out there thinks that I'm good enough to be involved in the top 25 college players," he said. "It's really an honor, and it makes you want to work that much harder."

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