Dez Mitchell had a career-defining night against North Georgia on Jan. 26, hitting all seven of his three pointers on his way to the most prolific shooting night in GC history. But many don’t know about the journey that lead to this moment.
Coming into the 2016-17 season, head coach Mark Gainous was in need of a point guard who could handle the intensity of the Peach Belt Conference.
“We had some young guys in the program, but no one had proven themselves to be the starting point guard,” Gainous said. “To be a point guard, especially a starter in the Peach Belt, not only do you have to be a good player, you have to be a good leader.”
After playing two seasons at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida, Mitchell was wanting a change of scenery.
“I took a few visits to places that were far away from Florida, and I didn’t really like it,” Mitchell said.
One call, one invitation and one visit to GC was all Mitchell needed.
“GC called me at 8 a.m. on a Friday and asked me if I wanted to come on a visit,” Mitchell said. “I came to visit, and that was it.”
Gainous said he knew he had his guy as soon as he met with Mitchell.
“When Dez came up on his recruiting trip, I went and picked him up, and we instantly connected,” Gainous said. “I knew that was the guy. We offered him a scholarship when he was on his visit, and a couple days later he said, ‘Coach, I’m coming.’”
Mitchell has officially made it into the GC history books due to his flawless three-point land against North Georgia on Jan. 26, situating him at the top of an elite list. The record was previously held by Roosevelt Whitney by going perfect from deep on Jan. 8, 2003.
Mitchell’s stellar play is a product of hard work that takes place when no one else is watching.
“I try to get up at least 300-500 shots a day and at least close to 1,000 a week,” Mitchell said.
Gainous is one of the few people who has witnessed Mitchell’s relentless work ethic.
“He puts a lot of work in behind the scenes,” Gainous said. “The game is what everybody sees. It’s like an iceberg; you see the top, the 10 percent. The 90 percent is all the work and all the discipline.”
Sophomore guard Jordan Thomas said he has no doubt whenever Mitchell pulls up for a deep three.
“He’s confident,” Thomas said. “Every time he shoots, he thinks it’s going in, and every time he shoots, I think it’s going in.”
The road hasn’t always been easy for Mitchell, though. After being sidelined by two season-ending foot injuries, Mitchell had to will his way back onto the court by leaning on those around him.
“My family and my girlfriend, they all helped out a lot,” Mitchell said. “It’s been nice having coach Gainous and Aquino always motivating me, and it feels good to be back.”
The determination, grit and resilience that fueled Mitchell’s comeback has had an effect on the entire men’s basketball program at GC.
“It’s helped us with our guys, and it’s helped me with our recruiting,” Gainous said. “When I bring guys in on campus, I tell them about Dez. It’s just an inspiration for everybody.”
With his time on the court wrapping up, Mitchell has high hopes for his last game as a Bobcat.
“Hopefully it’s in the NCAA tournament,” Mitchell said.