Niaga Mitchell-Cole was named by this blog as the best player in the city for the class of 2012. The main reason, upside!!! Mitchell-Cole is a very gifted player already but the sky is the limit for the athletic guard for Roosevelt. The sweepstakes for her services at the collegiate level is heating up and she has narrowed her chooses down to three school; UTSA, Texas State and Weber State. I will make a case for her final choices and make my prediction.
Why Weber State?
Weber State has a brand new coaching staff. The Utah school is led by former Louisville assistant coach, Beth Ord. Coach Ord has coached at BCS schools Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Auburn before landing at Louisville. I had a great opportunity to get to know Coach Ord while she was at Louisville and her passion is infectious. She has brought that same enthusiasm that she recruited McDonald All-American Shoni Schimmel to Louisville with to San Antonio a few weeks ago in her pursuit of Mitchell-Cole. Her staff has been recruiting Niaga for years even before landing at Weber State. Assistant Margaret Richards was previously at North Texas and took her love for Niaga to Utah. The staff also has more Texas ties with assistant coach Devan Newman. Coach Newman father is Don Newman, assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. All three previously mentioned Weber State coaches visited Niaga a few weeks ago. That kind of presence is not the norm. Niaga would be a MAJOR recruit for the Weber State staff to land as she is a BCS caliber talent. They showed a strong presence in San Antonio to illustrate the importance of her to their future plans. Niaga reportedly enjoyed her official visit to Weber State.
Why Texas State?
Texas State also has a new head coach in Zenarae Antoine. Coach "Z", as she is known, is also a former assistant with BCS ties in Louisville and more recently, Arkansas. In her previous role in Arkansas, I had the pleasure of getting to know her through the recruiting process. She is a tenacious recruiter and has a great knowledge of game. She has reportedly expressed to Micthell-Cole that she is the most prized recruit for her staff and the ball would be in her hands from day one. The close proximity of Texas State to San Antonio is a plus. Former Stevens guard Bree Dawson was the Niaga's tour guide during her recent official visit. Texas State is moving to the Western Athletic Conference and the move is presumed to be an upgrade on the national scene. Texas State has been to San Antonio on numerous occasions to show their intent to land Mitchell-Cole. Texas State would be just far enough to get away from home without getting too far away from home. Coach Z has had helped numerous players develop into outstanding players including WNBA star, Angel McCoughtry.
UTSA has put on the full court press for Mitchell-Cole. The football game with 30,000 people, Roadrunner Ruckus featuring enthusiastic students and hanging out with team veterans on her official visit all help the case of UTSA. Head coach Rae Blair is a players coach. She is not an exaggerated yeller and allows her players the freedom to create. Her offense is guard friendly and features four guards at times. Her staff is diverse and competent. Assistant Coach "Luby" is a former D1 head coach at Radford and assistant for the WNBA Washington Mystics. UTSA is too moving to the WAC to face better competition and that also helps their case. Niaga would be able to play in front of her family, friends and high school coach, whom she is reportedly very close with.
The winner is?
In MY opinion, I am predicting Michell-Cole chooses...... UTSA. The Roadrunners will land the best payer in her class for the first time in recent San Antonio history. In fact, They will have the best two players in the city for 2012 with Mitchell-Cole and Sabrina Berry. Mitchell-Cole will become a great player under the personal development of UTSA assistant Koty Cowgill. Koty is a bright young strategic mind but his ability as a developer is very impressive. Niaga will add a tighter handle and learn to shoot "with a pause" under his training. Assistant coach, San Antonio great and former pro, Tai Dillard is the kind of mentor that will help a young Mitchell-Cole navigate the college landscape and help her thrive. Coach Blair has historically spread the court and allowed her perimeters players to eat. Mitchell-Cole, at 5-11, is a great rebounding guard and will be allowed to push the rock and create for others. The UTSA back courts as of late have been small with Roadrunner great Amber Gregg and the dynamic Whitney "LuLu" York. Niaga will allow UTSA to play big, if they choose to, with the the ultra talented Judy "Judo" Jones in the back court at the same time.
Of course, this is all speculation! Stay tuned! Decision coming October 23rd.