Southwest's Mitchell chooses basketball

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Jim Rowland, right, Northeastern Oklahoma State A&M women's basketball coach, discusses a national letter of intent with Southwest senior Shannon Mitchell, who signed recently to play basketball at NEO. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Hoops standout to continue career at NEO A&M

There is an old sports saying that the product displayed on the court is a direct result of the effort put into getting better off the court.

Southwest senior Shannon Mitchell signed a national letter of intent with Northeastern Oklahoma recently. In the front row, from left, are: mother, Lisa Mitchell; Shannon Mitchell; and father, Charlie Mitchell. Back row: Northeastern Oklahoma State A&M Women's Basketball Coach Jim Rowland and Southwest High School Coach Jeff Atchison. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

It was this saying that motivated Southwest standout Shannon Mitchell to put her heart and soul into athletics.

Mitchell's dedication to basketball topped any other events that Southwest High School could offer the senior. She even made the choice to skip her junior prom so she could play on a traveling basketball team.

"Yeah, I wanted to go [to prom]," Mitchell said. "But, I knew that if I was going to play in college, I would have to get better athletically."

At 6 feet tall, Mitchell is easy to spot on the volleyball or basketball court. By her junior season, it was not a question of if Mitchell was going to play in college, but where and what sport?

Volleyball and basketball were both life-long loves for her, and the choice proved to be hard when she began to think about deciding. The answer, however, came in the unlikely form of an injury her junior season.

"I tore my ACL at the end of volleyball season and was forced to miss basketball," Mitchell said. "That kind of made my mind up about which sport was my true passion. I just needed to find the right fit for me."

For the Lady Trojans, Mitchell averaged 23 points and nine rebounds per game this season. Her play during the NEO Tournament in Miami, Okla., caught the eye of Lady Norse Head Coach Jim Rowland.

"Shannon immediately stood out on the floor as a player who can make a positive impact," Rowland said. "You can tell she has worked hard to refine her basketball skillset and that is a major plus to see as a coach."

On Wednesday, Rowland watched as Mitchell signed a national letter of intent to play for him at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M next season.

"I see her as a combo-4 spot on the floor," Rowland said. "She has enough range that bigger players have to come out and guard her. But she has the skills to put the ball on the floor and get around them. With her size, she can take smaller guards to the basket. She is an all-around talent."

Mitchell said she is familiar with Rowland's program and loves the way he coaches.

"His teams like to get up and down the court," Mitchell said. "Coach Rowland is a fiery guy who will jump on your butt if you are slacking. I like a coach who has passion and shows how much he cares about his players."

At Southwest, Mitchell served as the team's emotional leader.

"Shannon was the player who got us going," said Jeff Atchison, Southwest coach. "She was the first in the gym and the last to leave. On the floor, she could take games over, whether on the offensive or defensive end. Teams always had to account for what Shannon was doing."

At NEO, Rowland expects more than just athletic achievement out of his players.

"First and foremost, we get our players to graduate," he said. "The goal of any junior college is to prepare their students to move on. This game of basketball teaches great life lessons, we know that our players will leave here better than when they arrived."

Mitchell said she chose NEO over Crowder College because it was a better fit for her educational goals.

"I plan to major in veterinary science," Mitchell said. "By the time I leave NEO, I will have my pre-veterinary degree."

Mitchell said she would like to transfer to another college that would allow her to play more basketball, but she will take it one step at a time.

Mitchell is the daughter of Lisa and Charlie Mitchell, of Washburn.

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