LAS VEGAS Tony Mitchell is a talented player with an uphill climb to make the NBA.
He was suspended for the final 11 games last season at Alabama for violating team rules in dealing with coach Anthony Grant.
Mitchell, a junior forward, was released from his scholarship and could have transferred but decided to give the professional game a try. After being bypassed in last month's draft, he's hoping to make an impression with the Kings during the NBA summer league.
"A lot of people said it wasn't basketball-related," Mitchell said of not being drafted. "It was stuff that happened between me and the coach. It's not bad. I've still got a lot of things to work on, so I just play ball."
Mitchell, 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, averaged 13.1 points and seven rebounds last season for the Crimson Tide. The Kings, however, don't want him to be concerned about statistics in trying to earn an invitation to training camp.
"I said don't worry about the fact you're not putting up 20 points right now," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "But it's doing the little things that will work when all the veterans come back around you, and if you're fortunate enough to be around, you might have a better look. Because you have the right size, right body, can play multiple positions, and I think he has the potential to be a good defensive player. So he's in a positive situation to be in as an undrafted player."
One way the Kings could improve their defense is to add more athleticism on the perimeter. If Mitchell can provide that, he at least could be around for training camp.
"You just see what kind of consistency there is to his play," Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said. "He's very athletic, and he shoots it fairly well. So far he's looked good in practices, and I thought he did reasonably well in the first game, and he can build off of that."
Mitchell had nine points, five rebounds and three assists Friday in the Kings' summer league opener. Saturday, he had eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in an 84-72 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Cox Pavilion.
"I think I'm coming along pretty good," Mitchell said. "There are a lot of rules, and it's a lot different in the NBA that you've got to learn on the fly and you don't always have time to learn. Other than that, it's going pretty good."
Mitchell said he "can't take back" the problems with Grant, but he's not allowing that situation to define his future. Mitchell said he'll continue to work on his game with the hope of getting a chance in the NBA.
"There's always things you can do to change things from being bad to good," Mitchell said. "But things happen. You just have to be mature and move on."
Smart said Mitchell isn't the kind of player he'd worry about damaging a locker room with a bad attitude. It's just a matter of whether Mitchell will have a chance to prove that in an NBA locker room.
"He's not a bad kid," Smart said. "He's not the type of person you have to be concerned with based on what happened in college. Now he has a shot."