by Cameron Deloatch, i64sports
After a regular season that saw reigning Class 4 state champions finish with a 7-15 record, many area fans wrote off the Titans playoff hopes. Much of the reason why Lake Taylor is still playing this time of the year is junior guard Zyrail Mitchell, who has taken his game to another level as Lake Taylor preps for its third state tournament in four years.
Mitchell has already Eastern District and 4A Region player of the year honors. In Lake Taylor’s 4A region title run, the 6’3 combo guard has averaged 31.3 points over his last 3 games. The perfect time to get hot is this time of the year and Mitchell has done everything in his power to propel the undermanned Titans during their recent playoff run.
Last year, Mitchell had to share the ball with some of the top players in the state of Virginia in Dereon Seabron, Jalen Jordan, and Joe Bryant. The scoring potential was always there for Mitchell, he just couldn’t display it fully. Now with the team under his leadership, Mitchell is able to stand out and leads his team.
Mitchell uses a quick handle to go along with his deceptive athletism and length. A streaky shooter from deep, if Mitchell gets going early, it can be a long night for the opposing team. One of Mitchell’s most underrated qualities is his passing ability and unselfishness. Sometimes when a player has as big of a scoring role he has, they can get tunnel vision and shoot unconsciously.
I’ve been able to observe a few of Mitchell’s games and he is very aware of situations and where his teammates are. If the defense tries to double or cheat to his side, he’s also good at making a pass early to be able to get the open man the ball. Defensively, he has a long and rangy frame which allows him to cover ground and hound ball handlers. The 6-foot-3 guard is also great in disrupting passing lanes which fits Lake Taylor’s full court press.
Zyrail Mitchell and the Lake Taylor Titans face Courtland High School this Friday in hopes to continue their run to win consecutive state championships for the first time in program history.