Exactly two years from the day he made the Oklahoma State (OSU) basketball team, Dee Mitchell received a surprise visit from head coach Mike Boynton, who interrupted his shift at Walmart to inform Mitchell that he will receive a scholarship for the rest of his time on the team. Mitchell, a junior, made the team as a walk-on in January 2019.
“This means everything to me,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It was a real surprise. It was breathtaking. It felt like I was in a movie or something.”
Nobody works harder than Dee Mitchell. He joined the Cowboys as a walk-on this day in 2019, and is paying his way through school thanks to his job at @Walmart.
— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) January 18, 2021
After his mother lost her job due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell took a 40-hour a week job at a Stillwater, Oklahoma, Walmart as a stocker, on top of his 15-hour class schedule, where he maintains an A and B grade point average. Because of his busy work schedule, Mitchell has only been able to play in 3 games this season.
My friend & former @OSUMBB walk-on Dee Mitchell has earned a full scholarship from @thacoachmike. If you don’t know his story, he works 40 hours a week at @Walmart, took 15 hours of classes with four A’s & a B and plays college hoops! pic.twitter.com/WMcur75aFp
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 18, 2021
Boynton said he wished he could have brought the entire team along to surprise Mitchell, but because of coronavirus restrictions, he brought a laptop with Mitchell’s fellow teammates on Zoom chat instead.
“I really admire Coach Mike, and I really look up to him,” Mitchell said. “I plan on being someone like him in the future — hopefully touching people the way he touches them.
“He’s easily one of the five hardest-working kids I’ve ever been around,” Boynton said of Mitchell. “And to see the kid go through last semester and do everything he could to be a part of our team, while working, while trying to do school, unbelievable. And that’s what this is about. What better example can you give to a kid about not letting circumstances dictate your attitude?”
Surprise scholarships to walk-on players have been a recurring uplifting story in college sports over the years. In 2017, Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles dressed up as Santa Claus to surprise player Tanner Borchardt with a scholarship. In 2016, Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe surprised walk-on player Danny Doyle with a scholarship.