Davion Mitchell

Kings guard Mitchell compares playoffs vs. Warriors to NCAA title game

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Programming note: Watch Davion Mitchell's "Kings Central" interview with Kyle Draper at 8 p.m. PT on Friday on NBC Sports California, immediately after "Kings Postgame Live."

Kings guard Davion Mitchell experienced the NBA playoffs for the first time last season when Sacramento lost the seven-game first-round series to the Golden State Warriors. 

However, last year’s postseason run wasn’t the first time Mitchell has played high-stakes basketball, as he had two go-arounds in the NCAA Tournament, winning a national championship as a Baylor Bear in 2021.

Mitchell explained the difference between facing the Warriors in Game 7 of last year’s first round with the Kings and winning a title game with Baylor on the latest episode of “Kings Central” with NBC Sports California’s Kyle Draper.

“It was a little different for me in college because that’s when COVID happened,” Mitchell explained to Draper. “People started coming to the games, but it wasn’t full capacity. I feel like Game 7 [against the Warriors] is definitely the biggest game I’ve been in.”

Baylor beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 86-70 in the championship to bring the first NCAA basketball title on its campus in Waco, Texas, putting the national spotlight on Mitchell and his Bears teammates.

But as the Kings third-year guard mentioned, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic diminished the noise at Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2021 NCAA title game, ultimately being no match for the packed Golden 1 Center and Chase Center crowds during the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Playing against Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Warriors in win-or-go-home fashion in Sacramento simply takes the cake for Mitchell, but that’s not to say he didn’t enjoy his March Madness era.

“[The national championship] was still a big game because people don’t talk about who came in second,” Mitchell told Draper. “The Baylor legacy, the Baylor family, to get that national championship for Coach [Scott] Drew -- he was kind of in a drought, too. He was at Baylor for 16 years. That’s funny, 16-year drought, 16-year [Kings] drought. It was good just to get it for him. 

“Now, a lot more players are going to Baylor, considering Baylor because people are now noticing how they produce players, and how they produce players as men, too.”

Baylor’s March Madness run drove up Mitchell’s draft stock, as the guard averaged 13.5 points, 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals before being selected ninth by the Kings in the 2021 NBA Draft.

And just like he did by helping Sacramento reach the NBA playoffs last season for the first time since 2006, Mitchell ended his coach’s title drought of 16 years.

Mitchell will forever be a Baylor legend, but he knows all his work at the collegiate level was for the opportunity to play in the NBA.

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