Top 10 Plano Sports Stories of 2012: 5. Twin Towers: Randle, Mitchell ranked No. 2 in respective national classes
Any coach or school would crave the opportunity to have just one player ranked in the nation's top 100 for their respective class at their leisure.
The Prestonwood Christian Academy boys basketball team has two.
Not just any two, but the No. 2 players in both the Class of 2013 and 2015, with those respective honors claimed by junior Julius Randle and freshman Mickey Mitchell, according to ESPNU.
"Obviously it's a major blessing," said Chris Mayberry, Prestonwood head coach. "Even with (senior) Zach (Peters) last year and still having (junior) Marquan Botley, to have three Division I players and potential guys who can play after college is a great blessing for us here at Prestonwood."
For Randle, it's a standing that should come as a surprise to no one with the 6-foot-9 forward ranked among the nation's top high school prospects for 2013 in a myriad of scouting outlets. The accolade's well-deserved too, with Randle commandeering another stellar season in helping lead Prestonwood to its second TAPPS 5A state championship in three years.
"The separating factor that I've seen since the season ended is [Randle's] work ethic," Mayberry said. "As good as it is already, it continues to get better and the effort level he puts in is what's going to separate him from the rest of the crowd and the reason why I think he'll be an unbelievable college player and an unbelievable pro as he continues to develop."
Randle's junior campaign concluded by averaging 21 points and 8.8 rebounds while netting honors as a MaxPreps All-American second team selection, a TAPPS all-state first team selection and the TAPPS I-5A Most Valuable Player.
The forward also captured MVP honors at the City of Palms Classic in December, where the Lions became the first team from Texas to win the nationally-coveted tournament.
As a player, Randle has been lauded by scouts for his overwhelming physical presence, plus a knack for finishing at the basket and his aggression on the boards.
"It's obvious that [Randle] has the physical tools to dominate every game," said Paul Biancardi, ESPN director of recruiting. "... That stuff jumps out at you along with his motor. That's something that's hard to teach and hard to acquire over time, but he has it ingrained in him at a young age."
Before his junior year even got underway, Randle made waves during the summer by frequenting the NIKE Skills Academy circuit.
Invited to attend the Amar'e Stoudemire Skills Academy -- a camp that hosts the nation's top 20 high school big men -- Randle would go on to participate in the LeBron James Skills Academy, open to the top 80 high school players in the country. Randle was among the standout performers at both.
This summer, Randle looks to take his game one level further as he vies for a spot on the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team.
"[Randle's] potential is unlimited," Biancardi said, "because he has so much going for him and he has so much further to go. It's going to be exciting to watch his growth."
Joining the power forward among the nation's elite is Mitchell, who makes his debut in the ESPN Terrific 25 rankings at No. 2 after previously having been scouted as one of the top eighth graders in the country with the Lions.
That marriage almost didn't pan out entering Mitchell's freshman year, when he enrolled at Shepton High School to join the Plano West feeder system, only to return to Prestonwood in late October and bolstering a team that already had Randle, Peters and Botley at its disposal.
"I had seen [Mitchell] play before because he's from Florida," said Mayberry, who coached in Orlando, Fla., prior to joining the Lions. "I had seen him play a couple times. He's just so uncanny with some of the things he does, like his passing plus his athleticism and size for his age. I was very impressed with him and he continues to get better."
On the court, Mitchell displayed an advanced court vision and creativity off the dribble that routinely set up his teammates for high-percentage looks at the basket. In his first foray through the high school game, Mitchell led the Lions with 3.7 assists per game, balancing that average with 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds.
"[Mitchell] had such a huge role for us this year," Mayberry said. "He had to defend some of the best players in the country and had some really good games at our big tournaments and scored 30-plus in a playoff game.
"Right now, he's just been working on his shooting and making people play him farther away from the rim."
"Mickey is a tremendous passer for such a young player," Biancardi added. "He has an advanced way about him and how he plays the game. He can play without the ball in his hands and can find teammates anywhere."