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2023-24 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #4 Stevie Mitchell

Will we see more of the same from MU’s defensive specialist, or will he get pushed for minutes by his teammates?

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at DePaul Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s dive into the Marquette men’s basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the roster one by one: First MU’s three freshmen in last name alphabetical order — we’re skipping Caedin Hamilton because he will be redshirting this season — and then moving on to the returning active players from last season, going in order of average minutes per game last season from lowest to highest.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories, as we always do:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, we move along to the junior lynchpin of Marquette’s backcourt defense......

Stevie Mitchell

Junior - #4 - Guard - 6’3” - 195 lbs. - Reading, Pennsylvania

It’s clear that Stevie Mitchell is the most unheralded of the five projected Marquette starters heading into the 2023-24 season. Look no further than his four compatriots have picked up preseason position watch list honors from the Naismith Hall of Fame and he has not. It’s fair, to be honest, because all four of them have something to hang their hat on. Big East Player of the Year, Big East Sixth Man of the Year, led the Big East champs in scoring or rebounding, you get the drill.

Mitchell doesn’t have that. What he does have, though, is the innate ability to be the guy that you’re constantly shouting at the court/television about the good and/or great play that he just made. It’s usually not THE play, not the one that makes the highlight. It’s the play that makes the highlight happen. That’s what Mitchell excels at, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. After a year learning at Darryl Morsell’s knee, Mitchell was set loose on backcourts across the country last season. While it doesn’t really show up in his on/off numbers, it’s impossible to say that a guy who ranked in the top 40 in the country in steal rate per wasn’t making a gigantic impact on Marquette’s defense.

That’s all in the past, though. That was what Mitchell did as a sophomore in his first year as a starter for Marquette. What’s next?

Reasonable Expectations

With Marquette bringing back everyone but Olivier-Maxence Prosper from the rotation that won the Big East regular season and tournament titles, it’s hard to see Mitchell’s specific role changing all that much for 2023-24. Given the mere size difference between Prosper and Mitchell — Mitchell is MU’s shortest starter at 6’2” and second shortest rotation player next to Sean Jones — he’s not going to benefit all that much from the Golden Eagles reorganizing without Prosper around. Those minutes and those responsibilities are going to go elsewhere on the roster.

So, with that in mind, the reasonable expectation is more of the same from Mitchell. 7.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 steals is what he averaged a year ago. If that’s the season long stat line that we see from Mitchell by the time April rolls around, then only crazy people are going to be upset about what Stevie did for the Golden Eagles this season. Mix in that eye for coming up with a steal — his 4.1% steal rate was best on the team, beating out Chase Ross’ 3.9% — and a continuation of his improvement at not turning the ball over, and it’s going to be a good year for Mitchell. Take a look at the T-Rank projection for the team, and you’ll see that “just keep being you, Stevie” is the order of the day: 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists is the guideline according to the algorithm.

Why You Should Get Excited

One of the big reasons why you might have been high on Mitchell’s potential going from freshman year to sophomore year was his shooting. In limited minutes off the bench, Mitchell shot 35% from long range on 20 attempts for the season and a very nice 4-for-10 in Big East regular season games. Marquette didn’t ask him to do much in that regard, not with the guys elsewhere on the roster, so that was a very good sign.

Last year was not a payoff on those good signs. Mitchell shot 30% from behind the arc, 31.4% against Big East foes, and a very bad 27% and 24% against what labels as top 50 and top 100 opponents respectively.

But the other shooter, the freshman year shooter, was still in there. In MU’s 13 games against sub-100 opponents, Mitchell went 10-for-24 from long range, which is 41.7%. Marquette was a great shooting team last season, but only in terms of effective field goal percentage. Their stellar two-point shooting helped carry the day a little bit for a middle-ish of the road three-point shooting performance where they ranked just #101 in the country.

Mitchell’s not going to be an offensive star for this team, not in terms of head coach Shaka Smart relying on Mitchell to get them buckets when they need it. But, can he be a “get open and be ready” guy? 100%. With the number of offensive options on this roster, Mitchell is going to get left alone as his defender helps off of him. It’s just going to happen. If he can make use of those opportunities, and he’s shown the ability to do exactly that, then that’s going to make MU even more dangerous.

Potential Pitfalls

There’s a version of 2023-24 Marquette that 1) is incredibly successful but 2) does not include a big role for Stevie Mitchell. Does T-Rank project an increase in minutes for him from last year to this year? Sure. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve written four player previews already that have talked about the logjam of backcourt options that are on the MU roster this season. If the two freshmen AND the two sophomores all show an ability to impact the game, then they’re going to need minutes.

Those minutes are probably coming from Stevie Mitchell’s account. They are probably not coming from Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones. Those guys are almost assuredly going to play as much as they want and/or as much as they can and/or as much as the coaching staff sees fit to let them play. If there’s 120 minutes of action across three backcourt/wing positions.... and Kolek and Jones get 60 of them...... well, you can see how Mitchell turns into an interchangeable piece on the roster more than a guy that the Golden Eagles are relying on for a specific need. There’s nothing wrong with that, Mitchell can still have a great junior year in that situation.

But if Mitchell can’t hit those open threes, if he’s more of the 30% shooter that we saw last season? Or if the oopsies with the ball from freshman year make their return? Then the coaching staff has to make the hard calls about which guys are giving Marquette the best chance to win ball games.