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August 30, 2007

A-10 Rookie of the Year leaving Duquesne

PITTSBURGH - Robert Mitchell, a 6-foot-6 forward who was the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year last season, has left Duquesne University's basketball team and plans to transfer to another school.

One of a dozen new players brought in by Dukes coach Ron Everhart last season, Mitchell averaged 16.4 points and 5.1 rebounds as a freshman on a team that finished 10-19. He was chosen as the Atlantic 10's rookie of the week five times and was only the second player in school history to be selected as the conference's top first-year player. He was the ninth leading scorer among NCAA Division I freshmen last season.

Despite his strong play most of last season, Mitchell was suspended one game for disciplinary reasons and also was criticized at times by Everhart for his lack of effort during practice.

Mitchell, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is the second player from that rebuilding team to leave Duquesne since the season ended, with the 6-6 Scott Grote (8.3 points) departing for personal reasons.

The departure came during the second week of preseason practice leading up to a Labor Day weekend trip to Toronto, where the Dukes will play four games in three days. Mitchell left practice on Tuesday and asked for his release during a meeting with Everhart. He is believed to be interested in transferring to Memphis or Seton Hall.

"`He's a good player and a good kid, but we still have a good team," Everhart said Wednesday. "I regret Robert won't be with us, but this is one of those situations where we now have good team chemistry and good depth."

Because transfers Shawn James and Kojo Mensah and junior college transfer Stuard Baldonado are eligible this season, it was a possibility Mitchell might not have started despite being the team's leading scorer last season.

The 6-10 James, the nation's leading shot blocker two seasons ago at Northeastern, the 6-8 Baldonado and Kieron Achara, a 6-10 senior, will get considerable playing time. Baldonado, one of five Duquesne players shot on campus nearly a year ago, has been the team's strongest rebounder in practice.

Duquesne also lost another player before the Toronto trip when 6-7 junior college transfer Ricky Jackson of Canton, Ohio, was denied admission for academic reasons and was released from his scholarship.

Jackson would have been one of seven new Dukes players this season, counting James, Mensah and Baldonado, plus 6-8 freshman David Theis of Pittsburgh, 6-5 swingman Bill Clark of Redondo Beach, Calif., and walk-on Brandon Harris, a 6-9 forward from Akron, Ohio.



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