State College is a long way from Stone Mountain, Ga., but one visit was all it took for Kaliyah Mitchell to decide Penn State was where she wanted to spend four years.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-2 forward from Stephenson High School, orally committed to the Lady Lion basketball program on Monday. She joins 5-6 guard KeKe Sevillian (Goodrich, Mich. High School) and 6-6 center Infiniti Alston (Digital Harbor, Baltimore) in what promises to be a huge recruiting class that will enroll in the fall of 2013. Mitchell will be eligible to sign a letter-of-intent in November.
Rated a four-star recruit by ESPNHoopGurlz, Mitchell chose the Lady Lions over Auburn, South Florida, Mississippi State, Cincinnati and Kansas.
She took and unofficial visit to Penn State this past Saturday. By noon Monday, Mitchell let coach Coquese Washington know that she was accepting Penn State’s scholarship offer.
“It just felt like a great fit for me,” Mitchell said of Penn State. “It was a family-oriented school and the education program is great. I felt like it would benefit me the most.”
Mitchell should benefit Washington’s program, which went 24-6, won the Big Ten regular-season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 last season. Mitchell averaged 12.9 points and 8.3 rebounds for a Stephenson squad that went 25-6, the school’s 11th consecutive 20-plus win season. Mitchell was an All- Dekalb County selection.
Mitchell says the strength of her game is “driving to the basket, rebounding and getting up-and-down the court.” She sees that fitting in perfectly at Penn State, which she’s seen play on television.
“I like their style of play,” Mitchell said. “I love the uptempo game.”
She got a taste of that style last Saturday, playing in a pick-up game with her future Lady Lion teammates.
“They were pretty good,” she said. “The guards like to get up-and-down the court and the posts were trailing and coming.”
“They were really getting up-and-down the court well.”
Mitchell said Penn State began showing serious interest in her in April and she developed a bond with Penn State assistant coach Kia Damon, who was her primary recruiter.
She’s becoming a part of what appears to be the largest recruiting class since Washington took over the program in the spring of 2007. The Lady Lions’ current roster features 11 players, five of whom are seniors. Washington’s 2013 class could include anywhere from five to eight players.
“I like being a part of it,” Mitchell said of a large recruiting class. “You know that you’re not alone. You have people around you that are going through the same things as you.”
As she mentioned earlier, Mitchell is also looking forward to an education degree at Penn State. She will focus on elementary education.
“My aunt teaches kids,” she explained of her interest in teaching. “When I was over there helping her, it had a big influence on what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
Mitchell is glad to have made her decision and has been proclaiming it proudly on Twitter since Monday afternoon.
“Now I can relax and just be ready to come and make a big impact,” she said.
Walt Moody can be reached at 231-4630. Follow him on Twitter @wmoodycdt