Missouri Tigers basketball recruit Tony Mitchell will not be eligible for the fall semester and start of the season, coach Mike Anderson said in a statement Wednesday.
“Tony’s case with the NCAA Eligibility Center remains under review, as has been the case for quite some time,” Anderson said. “However, with our fall enrollment deadline having passed, he will be unable to join our program at this time.”
Mitchell has been facing academic ineligibility charges since June. The Dallas Independent School District is investigating eight out of 14 transfer credits Mitchell brought from the Center of Life Academy in Miami, Fla. Mitchell transferred to Pinkston High School after his junior season and reportedly completed the equivalent of nine make-up exams in two days, including five in a two-hour time span. The 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pound forward went from being a freshman to a senior in a matter of days.
Adding to the academic probe is the fact that Mitchell also incurred 102 unexcused absences last year, according to station Dallas-Fort Worth news station WFAA. Most of these were reportedly after the basketball season had ended.
Mitchell is ranked No. 12 in the 2010 class by Rivals.com and was in line to be the highest-ranked player signed by the Tigers in the past 15 years. The five-star recruit averaged 20.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last year and led Pinkston to a 26-10 record.
Mitchell acknowledged his ineligibility on his public Facebook wall.
“Just Finding Out,” Mitchell posted. “Haters These Days.”
Despite the news, Mitchell seemed optimistic about eventually playing for the Tigers.
“I will be At mizzou bottom Line They Just Tried To Come At Me In A Wrong Way Without All The Facts But That’s How the Media Is,” Mitchell posted.
Although Mitchell will not be available for the fall, Anderson is still hopeful that the prized recruit will be available for the spring and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We remain hopeful Tony will be able to join us at a point later in the season,” Anderson said. “With that being said, we are very excited about this team and look forward to the 2011 season.”
Although the Tigers will not have Mitchell for the start of the season, another prized recruit has been declared eligible for the fall. Junior Ricardo Ratliffe, a transfer from Central Florida Community College, had also been involved with academic ineligibility issues this summer. But, Ratliffe enrolled at Missouri and will be eligible, Missouri Athletics spokesman Dave Reiter confirmed last week. The 6-foot-8-inch power forward averaged 27.4 points and 11.3 rebounds last year and was considered the top junior college prospect in the nation.
With the addition of Ratliffe, the Tigers will look to improve on an impressive 23-11 record last year. Four out of the five top scorers from last season are returning, including junior Kim English, who led the team averaging 14 points per game last year.
Missouri opens up the 2010-11 season Jan. 8 at Colorado.