Joe Mitchell’s basketball journey is coming full circle.
Mitchell can be found in the Southeast High School gym on week nights leading his players through practice.
Last month, Mitchell took over as head coach for the Golden Buffaloes basketball team.
It was at Southeast where Mitchell starred from 2005 to 2009.
“If I remember correctly, didn’t lose too many games, my junior year, we were fortunate enough to win state,” said Mitchell.
And so began his whirlwind trip through the college basketball ranks.
“I went to junior college, playing at Hutchinson CC. I end up going to Ohio University and at Ohio University I stayed there for about a summer, which is a quarter, a summer and some months, came back due to homesickness,” said Mitchell.
His trip back home landed him at Wichita State for the 2011-2012 season, a year he sat out playing under head coach Gregg Marshall.
It wasn’t until his fourth school that Mitchell was able to shine on the court in 2014.
“Ended up at Friends and probably had the best season of my career. I was actually National Player of the Year at the NAIA level, I averaged 32 points, that’s the highest in the nation at that time for any level,” said Mitchell.
While most people might have given up a long the way, Mitchell pointed to his support system for helping him keep his dream alive.
“My mother didn’t give up on me, I honestly wanted to give up as I felt coming home from WSU was Division I or bust in a sense, in my mind, I never dreamed or thought about playing NAIA basketball,” said Mitchell.
After college, Mitchell ended up playing one year of professional basketball in Canada for the London Lightning before earning a NBA D-League (now known as the G-League) tryout with the Austin Spurs.
Mitchell says he was one of the final cuts made to team.
Now, Mitchell can be found at Wilbur Middle School where he teaches PE and AVID for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
As head coach of Southeast, Mitchell has won his first two games against East and Bishop Carroll.