Raleigh, NC - Waxhaw (NC) Cuthbertson's Shelton Mitchell outscored 2013 NC State signee Anthony Barber 30-26; however, the future Wolfpack point guard's Hampton (Va.) team prevailed 61-59 in overtime in the first round of HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational at Needham Broughton High School.
"Shelton was very good," Cuthbertson head coach Mike Helms said. "He takes over when we kind of get into funks. Tonight we were offensively challenged."
"We didn't run our sets very well. We weren't executing very well. It's nice to have a guy like him you can turn to to just make a play when things aren't going well. And a lot of what you saw in the first half was just him making plays for us; not really coming out of the offense as much as him just taking over and making a play."
Barber was not Mitchell's primary defensive assignment, but he did spend time on the speedy floor general of the Commonwealth.
"It [guarding Barber] was tough," Mitchell said. "He's fast as can be, but it was good going against someone who's going to NC State. I like competing, but it is tough. He's a great player."
Mitchell added he benefited from the opportunity to match up with Barber.
"He's what top 10, top 20 or so," Mitchell said. "Just going against like that that you know is going to probably be a future McDonald's All-American and be all that and having a chance to be able to guard him was fun."
The matchup was a stark contrast in styles of play. Barber has the blazing speed and quickness, while Mitchell is smooth and deliberate. However, he is deceptively quick and has an innate ability to get into the lane and score.
"Everybody I worked with knows that I'm not the fastest, so they just teach me how to be shifty and teach me how to use my body and just teach me how to be crafty and get into the lane, basically have the confidence that whoever's guarding me can't stay in front of me and just basically believe and then go to the basket at will."
Barber, who is rated as a five-star recruit, the nation's No. 3 point guard and No. 11 prospect overall by Rivals.com, played with Mitchell at the LeBron Skills Academy last summer.
"He's pretty good," Barber said. "He played me at LeBron. We knew each other well from that event, but he's a pretty good. I liked the way he played. He liked the way I played. He's good."
Wake Forest assistant coaches Jeff Battle and Rusty LaRue, North Carolina assistant coach C.B. McGrath, Duke assistant coach Chris Collins and NC State head coach Mark Gottfried had a baseline view of the action.
Mitchell, who is not close to making a decision, said Wake Forest, North Carolina, Arizona, Connecticut, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Missouri are the main schools in the mix of his recruitment, while others in the ACC, SEC, PAC 12 and Big East are also showing interest.
"I'd say that they're [Demon Deacons] high on my list, but no one's really at the top," Mitchell said. "I like a lot of schools. Wake knows I like them a lot. No one's really at the top, but they know I like them."
"I talk to Coach Battle about every day. I'm not any closer to making any decision, but they know I like Wake and Coach Battle's a great guy and so they know how I feel about them."
Mitchell was in Chapel Hill Saturday, Dec. 1 to see the Tar Heels beat UAB 102-84.
"I've been to UNC, so seeing all of the winning tradition, basically just the atmosphere," Mitchell said. "They expect to win every game. The atmosphere is jumping. I went up there for a football game and just basically everybody knows who the basketball team and expects high things from the basketball team. And I talked with Coach Roy [Williams] a couple of times. He's a good guy."
Mitchell added the North Carolina staff has told him it is looking for another guard and is going to recruit him seriously.
The 6-foot-3 and 170-pound junior point guard, who is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, plans to make a return trip to Chapel Hill Saturday, Dec. 29 for when the Heels host No. 20 UNLV.
"It was actually set up in advance," Mitchell said. "We got the tickets about a week ago. The whole team has tickets to see the UNLV game, so I don't know if we'll be going to that or not. Hopefully we can go."
"I'll probably sit down and talk to Roy before or after the game, so we'll see where it takes us."
Mitchell said he will probably narrow his list of schools down at the end of the season after he talks with his family.
"Going into the summer I'm going to cut it down to five," Mitchells said.
He wants to play for a school where he can make an instant impact at, has a coaching staff he connects well with and a good broadcast journalism program he can pursue a degree in.
Cuthbertson (9-1) will face its nemesis Kinston (9-1) Friday, Dec. 28 in a rematch of last season's state championship, which the Vikings won 58-55 after overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half.
Mitchell was the Cavaliers lone source of offense in the first half against Hampton, as he scored 13 of their 17 points to keep Culbertson within seven at the break before continuing his hot-shooting following the intermission.
"Our offense was kind of lacking to begin the game, so I just kind of knew that I had to attack and it was working early and then my team was starting to pick it up and we started doing a little bit better," Mitchell said.
"A lot their [Hampton] help-side [defense] wasn't coming early and they were trying pressure up, but like I said the help wasn't coming early and I just we had open guys. Coach told me before the game we would have open guys [and] to attack, so I just used it to my advantage and just got into the lane like I do."
He added playing against somebody of the notoriety and caliber of talent Barber has made him want to play harder.
Mitchell played on the competitive AAU circuit for the CP3 All-Stars 16U team last summer.
"It means a lot getting a chance to play against all of those guys," Mitchell said. "You can't lack. I looked at that and looked at what I needed to work on and see what the best players are doing and try to take it and add it to my game."
He thinks it will help him in the long run, and knows what he needs to do to improve his game.
"I'd say I got stronger," Mitchell said. "I'm faster. Basically I just worked on everything. I'm not perfect. Nobody's perfect, so I basically just worked on everything, my weaknesses more than my strengths. I'd say my jump-shot's coming along lot more. I'm getting more arc on it. I'm getting more consistent with that and basically I'm just trying to be a better leader."
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