Maybe that turkey wishbone snapped and a request was granted. Did someone long for two area college players to shine bright?
Ethan Alvano, a Cal State University San Marcos standout, is a joy to watch. The senior guard is averaging north of 30 points per game for the Cougars early on and if you like offense, you’ll dig Alvano.
The exciting Alvano is starting his final season in capping his college career just as San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell is beginning his.
The Aztecs have a fantastic freshman in Mitchell and he’s going to be fun, too. Mitchell got the locals’ attention when plopping in 31 points in Monday’s 94-63 win over Eastern Illinois.
If the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Mitchell produces like that in this weekend’s Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, a nationwide ESPN audience will learn of him, too.
Alvano and Mitchell both hail from just over the North County hills. Corona High claims Alvano and Mitchell honed his game at Riverside’s Roosevelt High.
“We knew when we got Matt that he was special,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “He was Inland (Empire) player of the year, much in the same mode of Kawhi (Leonard) and Jamaal Franklin, so he’s got a great resume. He played in a state championship and on a CIF title team, so he’s used to winning.”
But Mitchell’s big outing came after three average ones. His aim was askew initially but not his talents.
“He’s still a freshman, so it takes time to get your rhythm and to adjust to the college game a little bit,” Dutcher said. “But he has the talent and the work ethic to be a really good player.”
It’s a treat for Dutcher if Mitchell, a forward, blossoms into a star. Dutcher is following coaching icon Steve Fisher in directing the Aztecs and that’s a tall order. If Mitchell continues to burn defenses from the outside, Dutcher’s debut inside Viejas Arena gets easier.
The Aztecs need a buzz to rekindle “The Show” and maybe Mitchell is the answer. In his 31-point game, a crowd of less than 10,000 watched and that’s worth nothing, even during a vacation break.
Of those who were there, at least Mitchell heard them.
“It feels great to feel the fan base and get them on my side,” he said.
Senior Malik Pope knows Mitchell experienced just a glimmer of what a rowdy student section can offer. Pope, once a highly touted recruit like Mitchell, has liked him from the get-go.
“I’m not surprised,” Pope said. “We see it every day at practice. He can shoot the ball. He can score. He’s really strong. I’m just happy to see him finally show the crowd.”
It will be elbow-to-elbow when SDSU goes to the University of San Diego on Thursday night. That same evening, Cal State San Marcos tangles with visiting Cal State East Bay.
With Mitchell, and Alvano, each game brings with it a chance to impress. They shoot often, score most of the time and play with a zest that’s easy to embrace. If appreciating college hoops, to watch both of them is a wish come true.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports