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Mitchell prepares for NZ Breakers life

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/08/2016 Angelo Risso

When new Breakers power forward Akil Mitchell told his American family he was moving to New Zealand, they had one question for him.

Where's New Zealand?

The 24-year-old North Carolinian put pen to paper for the Australian NBL runners-up on Tuesday, completing the side's roster for the coming basketball season.

Able to play as No.4 or No.5, Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Virginia's basketball department and has also played in the NBA development league.

He joins the Breakers from French club Olympique Antibes.

"I didn't know a lot about New Zealand before I came out here, and my family even less," Mitchell said upon his arrival in Auckland.

"They had no idea where I was going.

"I've spent the last few weeks doing my research and living on Google."

Mitchell, who worked under the tutelage of ex-North Harbour coach Tony Bennett in Virginia, said the decision to sign with the Breakers was an easy one.

He had spoken in depth with coach Paul Henare and been impressed by the club's four ANBL championships in the past six years.

Henare, who also coaches the Tall Blacks, felt Mitchell was perfect for the Auckland-based club both on and off the court.

The power forward played 133 games for Virginia between 2010 and 2014, scoring just under seven points a game on average.

Henare said Mitchell was defensively strong and versatile enough to halt both bigger and smaller players, as well as nail points.

His squad list was now well balanced with experience and freshness.

"His skillset is perfect in terms of what we're looking for," Henare said.

"But more importantly (with) the character he showed in our conversations and through his reputation."

Mitchell hoped his stint in Auckland could pave the way for a professional future in the United States.

The brevity of the ANBL season would give him time to return home and push for an NBA berth or development league spot.

"This is a good stepping stone," Mitchell said.

"But it's also a time to win and to mark myself as a winner."

Mitchell will join fellow American and point guard Ben Woodside at the Breakers, who begin their ANBL season on October 7.

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