WATCH: OSU Basketball Player Surprised with Scholarship During Walmart Shift

Oklahoma State guard Dee Mitchell poses for a photo during media day Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

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.”

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.

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.

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