When Shelton Mitchell went down during a non-contact drill during practice on Nov. 7, he was scared. In high school, Clemson’s point guard tore his meniscus so he knew immediately what had just happened.
“When the play kind of happened I had that feeling in the back of my head like, ‘I tore my meniscus again,’” Mitchell said on Tuesday. “When I had the surgery, and I knew in this surgery they were going to take the meniscus out and I knew I was only going to be out for two weeks and I felt a lot better.”
Mitchell missed the Tigers’ first four games, but returned in their win over High Point last Friday night. In the 83-74 victory, he played 11 minutes and had two assists.
“I think because it was my first game back, I was just kind of testing the waters to see how it felt,” he said. “I think I responded well and my knee responded well.”
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said he was not sure how much he would play Mitchell tonight when the Tigers’ host Nebraska at 9 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but he said the sophomore will play.
“I will have to wait and see, but I will assume he will get more and more minutes as we keep playing,” Brownell said. “He had a good practice (on Monday), but some of it will be based on how he plays. If he plays well, he will get more minutes.
“We’re excited. We think he is hopefully going to be turning the corner soon and getting back to where he can really play. It has been a little bit of a setback, not only for us, but for him personally. I feel bad for him for kind of getting that close and then having to start back over a little bit. He has had to do that.”
Brownell said Mitchell just needs a little more confidence and more reps to feel comfortable on the floor, and they are optimistic he will play well tonight.
“I thought he looked good (Monday) in practice. I thought he had good speed,” Brownell said. “The High Point game, maybe, was not good for the way he can play sometimes because it was a lot more zone. There was not so much open court to really be a speed guard in the game.
“I think he is getting close. He has been through it so you hope that means his confidence comes back quicker than somebody that has not been through something like that. But the proof is in the pudding. You have to get back out there and play. He has to produce and have positive results, and again, we hope we see that on Wednesday.”
Mitchell says he is still doing rehab, but he likes where he is at and he likes how he is moving.
“I think I’m just as fast as I was before. In practice I feel great,” he said. “My lateral quickness feels like it is back and everything is back. Even though I feel like I’m back to hundred percent, I’m still doing rehab just to make sure it will not happen again.
“I’m doing everything I can to really make sure my knee is strong.”