Wednesday morning starts the life Tony Mitchell wanted back in August. He'll be a college man.
By mid-December, the Dallas Pinkston High School alum hopes to be a college athlete. Finally.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the idea of Mitchell being a Missouri basketball player was an afterthought, as the 6-foot-8, 225-pound, five-star national prospect officially enrolled at the University of North Texas. He will start classes on Wednesday, and he is expected to be eligible to play basketball for the Mean Green in mid-December.
As of noon Tuesday, Mitchell officially was a college student. He enrolled in classes at UNT and is expected to start classes bright and early Wednesday.
"This feels great. I've been waiting for so long just to be in college," Mitchell said. "I'm ready."
Mitchell originally signed with Missouri in November 2009, but he was not cleared by NCAA clearinghouse to join the Tigers after going through high school academic issues. Mitchell, however, was eligible to enroll at North Texas as a non-qualifier. Pinkston head coach Nick Smith said Mitchell will enroll at North Texas as a Proposition 48 student.
"He considered going to junior college and then going to Missouri," Smith said, "but North Texas has always been an option for him. He really wanted to be at Missouri, but it just didn't happen. It's like a marriage where sometimes, you've just got to go your separate ways and move on with your life."
Under Prop 48, a student-athlete can qualify to play Division I athletics as a freshman with a minimum 2.0 grade-point average in 11 high school core courses and either an SAT score of 700 or an ACT score of 15. Mitchell, in order to suit up for the Mean Green in December, must take and pass 24 hours of college credit.
Mitchell, who has the necessary high school requirements, said he has enrolled in 15 hours of course credit this spring and plans on taking nine hours of summer courses to be ready in time for the 2011-12 season. He is expected to be eligible Dec. 17.
Mitchell, a small forward who is capable of playing all five positions, averaged 20.5 points and 13.2 rebounds a game and was named The Dallas Morning News' player of the year for the 2009-2010 season after leading Pinkston to its first-ever UIL Class 4A regional tournament berth.
Mitchell was ranked No. 12 in the country among Class of 2010 players, according to Rivals.com. He was the second-ranked small forward behind Harrison Barnes, who now is at North Carolina. Prior to choosing Missouri, Mitchell's original final list of schools also included North Texas, Marquette and Georgetown.
Mitchell said North Texas always has been a high priority on the recruiting list, primarily because of Mean Green head coach Johnny Jones and his staff.
"The love they showed, it's basically like Missouri," Mitchell said. "Everybody's family up here, and they care about you outside of basketball."
Mitchell now headlines an already-gifted 2011 recruiting class, which includes Dallas Kimball forward Jordan Williams Eastland 6-foot-10 forward Forrest Robinson, South Grand Prairie scoring point guard Trey Norris and Garland Lakeview Centennial scoring guard Chris Jones, in addition to junior college transfer Brandan Walton.
"When you have team players and they love to win," Mitchell said, "it's always great to play with players like that."