On March 30, David Cox and his staff landed two of the more sought after transfers in the country in Makhi and Makhel Mitchell. The 6-foot-10 twins from Washington D.C. spent the first semester of their rookie seasons at the University of Maryland before entering the transfer portal in December. The brothers say they had more than 40 schools reach out but they ultimately decided to commit to Rhode Island over finalists Providence, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Texas A&M.
Like everyone else, the Mitchell’s are at home right now finishing up online courses. Eyewitness Sports Anchor Morey Hershgordon was able to steal a few minutes from them for a brief Q&A.
I’m sure it’s a hectic time getting recruited, but how much of a relief is it that you guys found a home relatively early in the process?
Makhel: “It’s very exciting. It took a lot of stress off of us. A lot of people wanted to know where we were going. It’s very exciting to join Rhody Nation.”
Makhi: “Hopefully (we can) be something big, be something special. Hopefully bring not only bring an Atlantic 10 championship but also a National Championship.”
URI has been in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Is it exciting to join a winning culture?
Makhi: “We want to bring something special back to the Rhode Island fans, the community and just excited to be there overall. And not just basketball wise. I like to meet new people, engage in conversations and be good people.”
You were pursued by dozens of schools around the country. Why was it URI at the end of the day?
Makhi: “We wanted to stay a package deal. A lot of schools wanted us to split up but we believe in ourselves, our family believes in us, our coaches believe in us and we feel like we can make this work.”
What was different about the relationship you formed with (head coach) David Cox?
Makhel: “Him being from home, being from Washington D.C. and knowing a lot of people we know … he’s done a lot of good things (at URI). He really (values) family and staying connected. He always wanted to talk (with us) and being a good coach.”
Mahki: “Just his transparency. He was honest and up front with what he thinks the future looks like for us, how things will work. He helped us build that trust.”
You guys only played a handful of games at Maryland this past season. Are you looking forward to showing what you can do in the right system over the course of a full season?
Makhel: “Definitely. We both have something to prove. We didn’t get that much of an opportunity (at Maryland). We’re ready to work hard.”
Mekhi: “We lost a lot of weight. Our eating habits changed. Our bodies changed. We got a lot stronger. We still have the same (goals) but we’re taking a different path. And what are they saying? ‘We’re bad teammates?’ I don’t think we are. We just want to win that’s what people misunderstand.
What do you think when you hear that? Does that fuel you?
Makhel: “We have a chip on our shoulder. We’re ready to fight. We’re ready to work.”
Makhi: “Off the court we want to excel in the classroom, be good people around the community. We’re likable players. We like to engage in conversation with people. A lot of people don’t think we’re approachable because we’re big but we love to have conversations with the fans. We love being good people.”
I talked to Malik Martin, one of your new teammates, last week when he committed. He talked about the fan support at URI. What have you heard about the atmosphere at the Ryan Center and the support the team receives?
Makhel: “One of our old teammates (Mekhi Long) says they have a good student body and they show a lot of love.”
Makhi: “Seeing from social media the crowds they draw, there’s a lot of people in the seats. I’m just ready to be there.”
How would you describe your game? What have you improved?
Makhel: “My offensive game has grown a lot. Over the past year. On defense we’re sliding our feet better and we can switch off (screens) and guard on the perimeter better. We’re always attacking the glass, offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding. The back-to-the-basket game has gotten a lot better too.
Makhi: “Everything (Makhel) said and stretching the floor, hitting the 15-foot (jump shot). Bringing an intensity to the game, bringing a toughness to the game.”
Do you have a message for the URI fanbase?
Makhel: “We’re going to work hard and be dedicated and we’re ready to win.
Makhi: “Bring back an A10 championship, be nationally ranked, make it to the tournament.”