Jonathan Mitchell says he holds no grudges and has no regrets.
Mitchell, who transferred from Florida at the end of the 2007-08 season, will face his former Gators as the starting small forward for Rutgers in tonight’s Legends Classic finals in Atlantic City, N.J.
“I’m closer to home now,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy. The opportunity is more here, I have more of a role.
“Sometimes, the shoe doesn’t fit and it doesn’t work out, but I still wish those guys the best and there’s mutual respect from both ends.”
Mitchell broke Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon’s scoring record at Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High School before being recruited as part of Florida’s 2006 class. After winning a national title ring as a freshman reserve, Mitchell couldn’t win a starting job at Florida as a sophomore. He also had trouble accepting a role as a defensive specialist off the bench.
Mitchell will get a chance to show the Gators if they made a mistake tonight. For the season, he’s averaging nine points and four rebounds per game.
“To me they are just another team in the tournament,” Mitchell said of Florida. “I used to play for them but it will be exciting to play against them. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to win the game.”
Mitchell said he did spend about an hour Thursday night visiting former teammates Dan Werner and Chandler Parsons in their hotel room.
“We caught up on some gold old times,” Mitchell said. “But we knew this is business for them as well as it is business for us.
Werner and Mitchell were former roommates. Werner also is the lone remaining member of UF’s 2006 class. Guard Brandon Powell transferred after some disciplinary issues and center Marreese Speights left for the NBA draft following his sophomore year.
Mitchell said his year sitting out to transfer rules “went by pretty fast” and is looking forward to playing the rest of the season. Mitchell already has taken on a leadership role after being named Rugters team co-captain with center Harnady Ndiaye.
“It feels to be in another championship game, different role, different meaning,” Mitchell said. “We’re a young team, an inexperienced team. A lot of people are doubting us. Hopefully we can come out and shock a lot of people.”