Penn State Basketball has picked up their 7th portal commitment this year with UMKC guard RayQuawndis Mitchell announcing his intentions to transfer to the Nittany Lions. The 6’5 guard is a graduate transfer and will be joining his 4th D1 college team after previous stops at Idaho, UIC, and UMKC.
Mitchell was named to the second-team All-Summit league after putting up averages of 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. He made a huge jump from averaging 8 points a game during his last year at UIC to this year where he found himself as a bigger focal point of his new team. While the counting stats are good the efficiency leaves much to be desired. He had a shooting line of 34.5/30.5/83.5 which is obviously not great, but a lot of it seems to come from the role he had to play at UMKC.
Mitchell shot just 30.5% from deep last year, but there are a ton of indicators that he is a much better shooter than that percentage shows. First, his shot selection was horrible last year because of what he was asked to do for his team. With a more defined role and better playmakers like Ace Baldwin getting him the ball the quality of shots he gets should go way up. Additionally, he shot the same percentage his last year playing at UIC but on 2.2 fewer attempts per game. 3pt percentages naturally go down the more shots you take as guys that take more are generally taking harder shots so to increase volume while maintaining efficiency is a great sign, similar to Andrew Funk increasing his volume and efficiency his last year before coming to Penn State and we all know how that worked out for the Nittany Lions. Finally, his shot physically looks sound besides not getting much lift and his high free throw percentage also indicates having good touch from deep.
At Penn State with a more limited role some of the underlying numbers, beyond the shooting that I touched on, do seem to indicate that scoring could be more efficient and he could be just an overall more effective player. The main one is that he was 74th percentile in division 1 in spot-up scoring which really shows that when he doesn’t have to fully create for himself he is much more effective. He also has a deep 3pt range which can help space the floor with better playmakers next to him and his 11% assist rate shows that he is a bit of an underrated passer despite the low assist totals.
On defense, he seems like a perfect fit for the Rhoades system. He’s big positionally and lengthy, which is becoming a real theme among the additions to the roster since coach Rhoades took over. He seems like another rangy defender that Rhoades can throw at opposing ball handlers and forwards joining the likes of Nick Kern, Puff Johnson, and Zach Hicks.
Obviously, not everything is perfect. The efficiency concerns are real and he was ranked in the 40th percentile or lower as a ball screen handler and a transition player. It is really hard to project how much or little Mitchell could contribute to the team next year and I think it is necessary just to take a wait-and-see approach with him. He could ultimately be the off-ball scorer the team needs next to Ace and Kanye or he could just not be able to cut it at this level, the range of outcomes for him is very wide.
RayQuawndis Mitchell is a very intriguing addition to the Penn State backcourt and regardless of role, I think the Nittany Lions Hoops fans will have a lot of fun watching him play.