Former Darton star Michelle Mitchell, right, will play at Albany State next season after transferring from Troy University. (Albany Herald File Photo)
ALBANY — Michelle Mitchell took the Darton State College women’s basketball program to new heights last year, guiding the Lady Cavs to a 30-4 record and a first-round bye in the NJCAA national tournament.
Now she plans on taking the Albany State program to the next level, too.
Mitchell, who signed with Division I Troy University after graduating from Darton, is transferring to Albany State University and will start her career with the Lady Rams next winter as a junior. She is enrolled at ASU for the spring semester of 2014 and will work out and train with the team in the months leading up to the 2014-15 season.
“She is going to change (Albany State’s) program,” Darton coach Lea Henry said. “She is that good. (ASU coach Robert Skinner) has a good team right now, but she is the one player who can kind of take you there. The one player who can take you up a notch.”
Henry knows all about Mitchell’s ability to take over games after the Eastman native averaged 16.6 points per game and was named the Region XVII Player of the Year as a sophomore.
And Skinner agrees that Mitchell might have an extraordinary impact on his program.
“We are really pleased to get Michelle back in Albany,” said Skinner, whose Lady Rams are 4-2 this season. “Michelle is just a great basketball player. She is really good and really consistent and is very disciplined. We are trying to bring in kids who are good basketball players and can play more than one position and help us on defense also. And that’s Michelle. She’s a hard-nosed, tough kid.”
Mitchell was one of Troy’s prized recruits a year ago, but the 5-foot-9 guard said it just didn’t work out at the Sun Belt Conference school.
“It’s not all about the Divisions. It’s about if you feel like you can fit in with the team and are comfortable playing,” Mitchell said. “Troy just wasn’t for me. It was overrated. Division I basketball is overrated.”
Mitchell believes she will find that same comfort at ASU that allowed her to excel at Darton.
“I feel like I can fit in with the team,” she said. “I know a couple of the players, and we will work very well together.”
Mitchell initially contacted Henry about her desire to return to Albany, and then Henry relayed the information to Skinner.
“(Henry) said Michelle wanted to come back to Albany and asked if I would be interested in her, and I said, ‘Would I be interested? Yes,’ ” said Skinner, who recruited Mitchell while she was at Darton.
There’s no place else Mitchell would rather be.
“I just want to be that all-around player and do what I can for the team,” Mitchell said. “I want to help the team win, that’s all I want to do.”