The return to basketball action for Gray Collegiate Academy guard Mychael Mitchell took another step forward on Jan. 26.
Gray Collegiate Academy guard Mychael Mitchell took another step toward returning to basketball action Jan. 26.
For the first time since collapsing on the court late in the Jan. 17 home game against W.J. Keenan following what is being described as a “freak accident,” Mitchell was back with the top-ranked War Eagles. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, he was involved in full-time practice at the old gymnasium.
Mitchell is expected to undergo further tests Jan. 27. Another clear bill of health would make Mitchell available to return to game action Jan. 31 against Columbia at home.
“It feels good,” Mitchell said following practice. “I’m just happy to be back out there with the guys, to get us some energy, encouragement and help them where we need to get help.”
Mitchell was taking jumpers and participating in drills under the watchful eye of his parents, head coach Dion Bethea and the athletic trainers whose quick actions helped revive him as he went into seizures and lost consciousness after getting hit with an elbow while attempting to grab a rebound.
For Mitchell’s teammates, his return to practice was a welcome sight. They dedicated their 60-53 road win over Keenan Jan. 20 to Mitchell, during which they, in their words, successfully "played the parlay," winning by more than five points to clinch the region tiebreaker against the Raiders.
“That meant a lot,” Mitchell said. “They said the game was for me. They showed hard work and pushed through adversity.”
Once Mitchell’s condition stabilized, his main concern was being able to “show his talents” on the court again and help his teammates.
“Right now, I just believe that he’s back to himself, back on the court,” senior guard Montraivis White said. “Soon, he’ll be back with us officially.”
“When I saw him on the floor [Jan. 17], I was not only worried about him being safe and coming back to us, but him returning to basketball,” senior forward Avantae Parker said. “And now that he’s been cleared and he’s slowly able to work his way back into practice, it’s a blessing.”
When he returns, Mitchell said he's just hoping for a good game.
“I don’t want to come out there and force anything," he said. "I just want to play the game I know how to play.”
A sweep of the home-and-home series next week clinches the top seed for the Class 2A playoffs. The next focus for the War Eagles is defending their state title coming out of the Upper State.
Before then, Gray Collegiate (16-6, 4-1) will have a rematch with Eau Claire at home Jan. 27 and travel to Milton High School in Georgia to face Sandy Creek out of Tyrone, Ga. in the Longhorn Classic at 3 p.m. the next day.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re constantly trying to get better,” Parker said.
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