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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Ferrum to retire Mitchell’s jersey
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Derek Mitchell (33), shown boxing out a Bridgewater College foe and grabbing a rebound, will have his jersey retired during a pre-game ceremony prior to the tip off of the Panthers’ home USA South Athletic Conference game against LaGrange (Ga.) College Saturday, Feb. 2. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
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Monday, January 21, 2013

By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor

FERRUM -- Derek Mitchell, who led Ferrum College's men's basketball team to the doorstep of the NCAA Division III tournament during a 23-5 2010-11 campaign, will receive the ultimate athletic honor on Saturday, Feb. 5 when the school retires his jersey.

The accolade will be bestowed on Mitchell, who hails from Newport News, prior to the tip off of Ferrum's USA South Athletic Conference game against LaGrange (Ga.) College.

Mitchell, the only men's player in school history to score more than 1,000 points (1,624) and grab more than 1,000 rebounds (1,258) during his career will become the second Ferrum men's basketball player to have his jersey retired.

Everett Foxx, Ferrum's career scoring leader in men's basketball with 2,112 points, had his jersey retired on his Senior Night during the 1991-92 season, a campaign that ended with the Panthers winning the USA South championship and reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Mitchell, who played from 2008-11 ranks second in career scoring behind Foxx, who played from 1988-92.

Mitchell will become the eighth former Ferrum student-athlete to have his jersey retired. Besides Foxx, the others are current Ferrum head football coach David Harper and former assistant coach Chris Warren, former major league baseball players Eric Owens and Billy Wagner and former baseball standouts Keith Mayhew and Pat Daly Jr.

Those seven are members of Ferrum's Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.

Also, Ferrum retired the jersey worn by Abe Naff, the college's director of athletics and Hall of Fame member, during his 23-year tenure at the Panthers' baseball skipper.

Mitchell and Foxx are the only Ferrum men's basketball players to earn Division III All-America honors.

Following his college career, Mitchell briefly played professionally in Germany.

Mitchell was selected to the Division III All-America first team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and to the third team by d3hoops.com in 2011.

Mitchell's final college game was the NABC's Division III All-Star game, which was played before the 2011 men's championship game at the Salem Civic Center.

Also in 2011, Mitchell was chosen USA South Player of the Year, NABC District III Player of the Year, South Region Player of the Year and Virginia Sports Information Director's (VaSID) College Division Player of the Year.

Mitchell led Ferrum to its best start in a single season in its Division III history, which dates to the 1985-86 academic year, in 2010-11 when the Panthers won their first 11 games.

The Panthers were ranked regionally and nationally that season, but failed to claim the school's first berth in the NCAA Division III tournament since 1992.

Conference rival North Carolina Wesleyan College proved to be the Panthers' main nemesis that year.

The two teams played three times with Ferrum winning at home 90-84 in the first regular-season match-up followed by a Bishops' 74-71 victory in the rematch in Rocky Mount, N.C. in February.

That win gave N.C. Wesleyan the regular-season conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the league's postseason tournament. As the No. 1 seed, the Bishops were awarded a quarterfinal-round bye and home games in the semifinals and finals.

In the tournament's title game, the Bishops edged Ferrum 74-70 in overtime to claim the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth. The Panthers were not awarded an at-large bid despite their 23 wins.

As a freshman, Mitchell was chosen USA South Rookie of the Year, VaSID Rookie of the Year and South Region Rookie of the Year.

Mitchell, who played one season of football at Ferrum, owns season (357) and career (1,258) records for rebounds and season (13.6 average in 2009-10) and career (12.5 average) records for rebounds-per-game.

As a freshman, Mitchell played on the first Ferrum team to win the conference's regular-season championship since 1995.

Mitchell was a four-time all-conference, all-region and all-state performer. He made the conference's all-tournament team in 2011.

 
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