Mad Ants guard Tony Mitchell had NBA talent, Fort Wayne coach Duane Ticknor said.
But he lacked an NBA mindset.
Mitchell showcased his on-court talent, and more maturity, during a season that ended with Fort Wayne’s first trip to the playoffs and an NBA Developmental League Rookie of the Year honor.
His success earned him summer league invitations from the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.
The perception was in the NBA that he was a good enough athlete, but his character was questionable, Ticknor said. The season that he had in Fort Wayne put him over the top.
Mitchell, who averaged 21.9 points and was a D-League All-Star, will play in the Orlando League from July 7-12 for Boston and the Vegas League from July 12-22 with the Knicks, barring an offer from the Celtics.
The 6-foot-6 wing seems far removed from Feb. 20, 2012, when he was suspended by Alabama for the remainder of the season by Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant because of repeated problems between the staff and Mitchell.
He also has a good shot at cracking an NBA roster, Ticknor said.
Boston, which unloaded veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, is looking for young talent to rebuild the roster.
He’s had 15 to 20 teams that were trying to get him in the summer league, Ticknor said.
He’ll actually have a legitimate shot.
The focus, as it has been from day one in Fort Wayne, will be on not making the mistakes Mitchell did at Alabama.
He’s made it this far, Ticknor said, by keeping that in mind and improving on weaknesses in all facets of his life.
From November when he got here to the end of the season, he was a whole different person, Ticknor said. He grew on the floor, but he grew off the floor also.