Matthew Mitchell isn’t good at keeping secrets. The University of Kentucky women’s basketball coach unveiled a surprise to members of the Winchester Rotary Club during a visit to Winchester Friday.
“We have a good team this year,” he said. “It’s a big year ahead of us.”
Southeastern Conference regular season title since 1982. Mitchell, entering his sixth season as coach of the Wildcats, has compiled a 114-56 record in five years, placing him third on the school’s all-time list. He has guided Kentucky to a school-record three consecutive NCAA¿Tournament appearances, including two straight trips to the Elite Eight. Mitchell said winning the SEC crown was a big accomplishment.
“That’s something we’ve been striving for and something we’ll continue to strive for,” he said.
Aside from his success on the sidelines and a new contract that runs through the 2019 campaign, Mitchell recently purchased a new home, one that previously belonged to University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino when he was coach of the Wildcats. Mitchell said the storyline on the home has been “amazing” but wants it to be known that he doesn’t have plans to leave the state anytime soon.
“We live two miles from campus and we’re excited to be in our new house,” he said. “Really, I hope it’s a symbol to everybody about how committed we are to staying in this community and staying at Kentucky. There was a lot of talk last year about maybe that being questioned, but I just want everybody to know this is the absolute, most fortunate situation I could be in. I am so blessed to be involved at the University of Kentucky.
“If you want to be a basketball coach, there is no better place (to be than) at UK. We’re really, really excited for the future and things that have been happening in our basketball program.”
The biggest thing Mitchell has accomplished in his first five seasons has been transforming the program into one of the elite teams in the Southeastern Conference. Although not a traditional power in the league, that has changed under Mitchell’s guidance and he’s already established himself as one of the winningest coaches in school history.
He credits his success to a set of principles he uses both on and off the court to prepare his players for the here and now and beyond. He said preparing for life beyond the court is important and “it’s going to matter more what kind of person you are, than what kind of basketball player you are.”
Mitchell’s top player trait is character and a “desire to continue that every single day.” He also likes to use a set of principles that include honesty, hard work and discipline.
“We talk about those (traits) over and over,” he said. “Honesty is the baseline of everything we do. Our approach is to be honest at all times.”
He also likes his teams to be prepared.
“Our best is sort of a moving target,” he said. “We need to be refining our skills and upping our commitment. Success for us is really rooted in character, principle, sacrifice and preparation.”
Despite his success, Mitchell isn’t dwelling on the past. As he does before each season, Mitchell looks at the road ahead instead of the rear-view mirror.
“We start over every single season,” he said.
It’s almost time to usher in a new season, which begins in less than a month.
UK Basketball: Mitchell lets out 'secret'
Matthew Mitchell is entering his sixth season as coach at the University of Kentucky. Mitchell has compiled a 114-56 record in his first five years at the school. (UK athletics)