Ohio State men’s basketball freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center to begin competing in games, OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith said in a statement on Friday.
Mitchell, the statement said, will be eligible to play in the Buckeyes’ next game, which is against No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York.
In a statement on Nov. 3, Smith said the NCAA failed to clear Mitchell to compete in games. The 6-foot-7 Texan had, however, been able to fully participate in practice while the matter was ongoing.
Mitchell was often seen behind the bench in street clothes during home games. He had yet to travel to a road game.
OSU and the NCAA have not said why Mitchell had been ineligible, but regardless, the news of his clearance could not have come at a better time for coach Thad Matta’s team.
The young Buckeyes (5-5) have had a tumultuous start to the 2015-16 season, highlighted by a four-game losing streak, illness and injury to freshman center Daniel Giddens, and a 75-55 thrashing at the hands of Connecticut on Dec. 12.
The apogee of it all, though, might have been the news on Thursday that sharp-shooting freshman forward Austin Grandstaff was transferring from the program, citing concerns over playing time.
With Grandstaff’s departure, the arrival of Mitchell to the rotation will likely prove to be beneficial when he does make his debut.
As a senior, the four-star Mitchell led Plano West High School in Texas to a 25-2 finish, while averaging 8.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Matta has dubbed Mitchell’s size and understanding of the game as two areas where he can benefit the Buckeyes the most.
OSU and Kentucky are scheduled to tip-off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on the court of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.