I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of Keelen Mitchell until I saw his name on Peter’s writing table. I started doing some research and was intrigued. Kellen Mitchell wasn’t your usual walk and his route to Gonzaga was also unusual. Star as a sophomore in Michigan high school, missing out on an elite prep school in California and the focus of the shortest featured video I’ve ever seen.
Born and raised in Orange County, California, Keelen was still in elementary school when his family moved to Michigan. When eligible, he attended Western Michigan Christian School, a private school known for its strong athletic programs.
6’3″ He started high school and was already a skilled basketball player, and was due to start college as a freshman but mononucleosis caused him to miss several weeks of the season. In his first game, he was 5-6 from the field to help his team beat an undefeated opponent in the league. After the season, playing AAU ball at Grand Rapids and Chicago greatly improved his game. Keelen was ready to have a great year the following season.
Mitchell had an impressive sophomore season, averaging 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 55% from the field and 42% from three. His team was having a good season and was progressing through the state playoffs when COVID stopped in the post-season. Because of his senior year, D-1’s recruiting radar had to receive messages from several schools including Georgetown and Oklahoma.
That summer, his father, Keith, a former Michigan soccer player, knew the basketball coach at Vermont Prep Academy in Anaheim, one of Southern California’s most prestigious prep schools. Keith sent him a special video of his son seeking advice on college employment. Impressed with the film and one step further, Coach offered Klein a scholarship from Fairmont Prep. Young Qilin accepted, returned to Orange County, and moved to live with his aunt. He was now competing at an elite level against some of the best high school players in California.
While playing in a pre-season game, Mitchell felt some leg discomfort and thought he had injured his groin. It turned out to be a labral tear (cartridge in the hip socket) that required surgery and a year of recovery. The next season, he felt the same discomfort on the other leg. Another hip surgery, and another missed basketball season. Keelen’s chances of playing D-1 basketball, especially in a top school, looked pretty bleak.
Enter Roger Powell, L.A. Gonzaga’s coach was watching another player at an AAU game. Kellen, who is now fully recovered and playing AAU ball, caught the coach’s attention. Powell, impressed by the goalkeeper’s large, smooth stroke and passing skills, made the call. The coach arranged a recruiting visit to Spokane, Mitchell liked Gonzaga and accepted an offer to be a tour favourite (no scholarship preferred the first year but can earn one starting from the second).
At the same size as Julian Strother at 6′ 7″ and 205 pounds, I wouldn’t expect to see Kaylen play after the show games. A year of preparation for the rigors of high-level D-1 basketball seems to be in order. With Matthew Lang and Will Graves losing, he would be a welcome addition to the Red Team (the Boy Scouts) as a senior ranger/winger and is an excellent three-point shooter.
How cool the story would be if Keelen developed into an influential Gonzaga player, the first run to do so since Mike Hart and David Stockton. “He missed his last two years of playing in high school” could be the next great Take a snapshot A cliched term in the great tradition is “there’s John Stockton,” “volleyball,” and “unicorn.”
On a side note; While researching Keelen’s story, I found some interesting items about his family. She mentioned that his father was a soccer player in Michigan, and he was also screenwriter With credits for sports movies like Whoopi Goldberg Eddie And Bernie Mac Mr. 3000. He is now the CEO of Booked, a company that helps college athletes find opportunities for none. Kimberlee’s mom is a child safety expert Her company, Boo Boo Busters, has protected children for many of the homes of celebrities including Brittany Spears and Matt Damon. Sister Chloe plays volleyball at Aquinas College and is credited as a The first athlete to benefit from nothing.