Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion was renovated in 2010 and seats roughly 8,600. According to a pamphlet touting its features, the sparkling new arena contains a “center hung scoreboard and video boards, mezzanine fascia ribbon boards, theatrical lighting, primarily chairback seating [and a] club area.” And on Wednesday evening, it will contain plenty of newly minted Maryland fans, all cheering for Charles Mitchell.
Much like the Terps’ trip to Boston College served as a homecoming for freshman Jake Layman, Mitchell figures to receive a similar ovation once Maryland travels to Atlanta for the opening leg of a two-game road trip against the Yellow Jackets and Wake Forest.
“I’m so excited to go home,” Mitchell said after Saturday’s 72-59 win over Clemson. “I haven’t been home in so long. I know a lot of people who bought tickets to watch our team play. I feel like it’ll be home-court advantage for me. Not even worried about it.”
Returning to Georgia Tech, which also recruited Mitchell, also means reuniting with freshman forward Robert Carter. The two faced each other in high school and AAU ball, and are both enjoying successful first seasons with their respective teams. Carter averages 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. Mitchell sees just 15.7 minutes per game, but still averages 5.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. Both stand 6 feet 8. Carter is listed at 245 pounds, Mitchell at 260, setting up an anticipated Royal Rumble rematch of sorts on Wednesday.
“In the heavyweight wrestling championship, too, I think,” Georgia Tech Coach Sean Gregory cracked on Monday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference, when asked if Mitchell and Carter faced each other before. “I love Charles, I always have. I love the attitude he plays with. He’s an energy guy. … I think their performances will continually get better as they get into college shape with the strength that you need and so forth. But they have a very good rotation in the post.
“I do know that Charles and Robert have gone head-to-head. I think they both respect each other very much. In terms of the big men coming out of the state of Georgia last year, they were two of the top ones. It will be kind of a renewal of the battles they did. They played a high school game against each other last year, as well.”
>> With Carter likely occupying attention from Maryland’s power forwards, 6-11 center Daniel Miller could draw Georgia Tech’s defensive assignment against Alex Len. The well-rounded junior averages 7.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.2 assists per game.
“I’m really proud of Daniel,” Gregory said. “You look at his growth over the last two years. Proud of the work he’s put in. It’s been every bit as much of his just understanding and acceptance of the fact that he’s a key component to our success. His daily work and energy level has been good. I think that’s why he’s improving. He’s been tremendous on the defensive end, anchoring our defense.
“But his matchup with Len is a challenging one. A lot of teams in this league, some teams in this league, are playing a little smaller at that second post spot, and Maryland will do the same, but not many guys have as physical a post player with great size like Len. So it will be a great challenge. You can’t allow him to get the ball in deep, and he’s highly skilled when he gets the ball. He can finish with either hand and has a variety of moves. For Daniel, it will be a great challenge. But it’s hard to guard him one-on-one. You got to do some different things in order to throw him off balance.”
>> Maryland honored former coach Lefty Driesell during halftime of the Clemson game, and the legendary Terps leader spoke in the team’s locker room after its win.
“I think our players loved having him around,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Lefty’s engaging, he’s got a great personality. And I think it was good for both sides. It was really good for Lefty to be in front of a group of young guys and talk to them. He talked about playing hard and listening to your coach and making the most of your opportunity. He talked about academics and how important a degree is. He hit a lot of subjects. I made the joke, if I didn’t cut him off, he’d still be talking right now.
“We loved it. It was a great hour he spent with the guys, and our guys really enjoyed it. I know Lefty enjoyed it too. Our thing on Saturday was we wanted to play well for Coach Lefty. He doesn’t make a lot of games, doesn’t live in the area anymore, so we wanted to play well for him, and I think our kids responded to that, because they were able to spend time with him.”