I think you can only describe Akil Mitchell's rise between second and third year as meteoric. During the 2011-2012 season, Mitchell was a complement to Virginia's superstar forward, Mike Scott.
This past season, however, Akil certainly stepped up and made a name for himself and hit some marks that not even Scott pulled off during his time at Virginia.
In his second year, Akil averaged 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Last year, he rocketed to 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. His 8.9 rebounds (and 6.3 defensive rebounds) were good enough to get him third place overall in the ACC, and second in shooting percentage with 55%.
Akil played in and started 35 games, which was a new school record. He was consistent and reliable throughout the season, putting up 12 double-doubles. Half of those double-doubles were against ACC foes, including late season performances against Duke and Maryland.
Mitchell had some off-season injury issues, suffering from a broken bone in his right hand at the LeBron James camp in Vegas back in July. His healing process has gone well and is back playing and close to, if not already, 100%.
Virginia will need a repeat of Mitchell's big season, and Akil appears ready for the challenge. He's got ice in his veins, and this team wants to win. My favorite quote from the off season goes to Mitchell, hands down. When asked how he feels about being Maryland's last ACC regular season opponent, the straight-faced Mitchell came back simply with:
"Sad to send them out on a loss, I guess."
Best Performance Last Season: 12 double-doubles...but @Duke (19 points, 12 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist, ZERO personal fouls...almost impossible against Duke)
Best Video Booth Moment/Best Use of a Straw Hat:
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