Transfer Commit Mike Mitchell Jr is Ball Handling Shooter Ben Johnson Needed

Photo: Pepperdine University

The Minnesota Gophers struggled to shoot the basketball last season and Ben Johnson hopes Pepperdine point guard, Mike Mitchell Jr, — who committed out of the transfer portal on Wednesday — will help solve some of those scoring woes.

How good is Mike Mitchell Jr?

Mitchell Jr was the 27th ranked transfer in the portal and carried a 4-star value, according to He visited Dinkytown over the weekend and carried interest from a bunch of other power five schools, including Clemson, Oregon State and Utah. UNLV and San Diego State also showed interest.

Mitchell Jr’s numbers at Pepperdine pop out in a few areas. He started every game he wore a Waves jersey. That’s 32 starts as a Freshman, 31 starts as a Sophomore and over 33 minutes per game in both seasons. In his final season with Pepperdine, Mike averaged 11.4 points on 43% shooting, including 44% from the 3 pt line. He can dish the ball too, averaging 5 assists per game.

I watched parts of a few games Mike Mitchell Jr played in last season and it doesn’t take long to see what Ben Johnson liked when he turned on Mitchell’s tape. He loves to push pace up the floor and he’s very good at creating his own shot off the dribble or creating offense for others off the pick and roll. Mike’s size limits him in the lane but he isn’t afraid of going there and can finish near the rim if given a little bit of space.

Mike Mitchell Jr flaws

Mike Mitchell Jr is far from a perfect basketball player. He doesn’t get to the free throw line very often and his turnovers can be a problem. He only averaged 2.9 turnovers per game but did have some nights where he racked up as many as 7.

That will happen when you’re the main ball-handler and Mike was definitely that for the Waves. But tape doesn’t lie and it’s clear Mitchell can struggle with on-ball pressure, at times, and will at times make questionable passing decisions when trying to push the ball up the floor.

He can be had off the dribble by quicker ball-handlers and tends to get lost sometimes off the ball. Both of those things will have to improve if he is going to get major minutes with the Gophers. It’s important to remember that Pepperdine went 16-47 in Mitchell’s two years there, which certainly played into the type of player he and others became while there.

Ben Johnson looking for more transfer portal talent

With Ta’Lon Cooper transferring to South Carolina and Jamison Battle possibly on his way to Indiana, Ben Johnson had to find another scoring option who can handle a lot of time with the ball in his hands. He absolutely gets that with Mike Mitchell Jr. He could be a huge get if he can take his game to the next level in a more structured system vs better competition.

The Minnesota Gophers are far from done with the portal. According to Ryan James (, Ben Johnson is still seeking two backcourt players in the portal who can contribute immediately. This is a win or die season for the 3rd-year head coach.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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