By Justin Prince
Former local high school basketball star Mychal Mulder has committed to the University of Kentucky Wildcats in what some consider to be one of the biggest signings in Windsor-Essex basketball history.
Mulder, who graduated from Catholic Central High School in 2013, announced his decision and signed his letter of intent at the Vincennes University Physical Education Complex in Vincennes, Ind. on April 27.
The Windsor native had recruiting interest from 13 different NCAA Division I schools, eight of which offered scholarships, according to 247Sports. He was considered a four-star junior college recruit after playing two years for the Vincennes University Trailblazers by a number of media outlets including 247Sports and Rivals.com. His father also made a surprise appearance from Windsor for the announcement.
“It was a tough decision for me,” said Mulder. “A lot of great people recruited me and had a lot of things to really weigh up over the past couple of weeks. I just thought, at the end of the day, playing there is probably my best chance at continuing my career after college. I hope to play professionally one day and I thought Kentucky gave me the best opportunity.”
The Wildcats became interested in Mulder about a month before his commitment, according to media reports. Before his visit to Kentucky on April 24, he wasn’t 100 per cent sure about committing to the school. Earlier this month, the Wildcats had seven players leave the team for the NBA Draft after finishing the year 38-1. Mulder said that also was factored into his choice.
Pete Cusamano, head coach of the Catholic Central Comets, said his second choice most likely would have been Creighton.
“I think this is a phenomenal opportunity. It’s probably the biggest signing of a high school player of a basketball player in Windsor since Mike Brkovich in 1977 with the Michigan State Spartans and played with the national championship team with Magic Johnson,” said Cusamano. “There’s been some other kids who have done Division I basketball from Windsor. We counted 17 kids who went to Division I, and we’re going back to the 1960s. It’s a big deal. I mean not because it’s a Division I. He went to probably the most elite Division I school of the last decade, so it’s a pretty important signing for Windsor.”
The road to Kentucky for Mulder wasn’t an easy one. As a two-star recruit in high school, the six-foot-four, 185-pound shooting guard had helped his team win the 2013 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Boys’ Basketball AAA Championships against the St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish from Ottawa while playing for the Comets.
He had scholarship offers from three Division I schools and interest from others, Cusamano said he didn’t qualify for them. By the time Mulder graduated, he did not have the 16 core academic credits he needed. He had contacted at least 60 JUCO schools on Mulder’s behalf before Mulder committed to Vincennes in June 2013.
“You can say he was marginally ignored out of high school,” said Cusamano.
Cusamano said the JUCO level helped him adjust to the speed of the game. He also said his time at Vincennes helped give him more exposure and a higher level of play to show his talent.
Mulder had been named a National Junior College Athletic Association First-Team All-American with the Trailblazers after leading his team with 15.7 points per game and less than 45 per cent from three point range during the 2014-15 season. Both Cusamano and Vincennes men’s basketball assistant coach Brian Davis both said he also showed great work ethic and leadership during his time at their schools.
“It has been a pleasure to coach Mychal these last two years,” said Davis. “He is what we are looking for in a student-athlete.”
Mulder is excited about the challenge of playing at a higher level. Mulder will have two years of eligibility at Kentucky.
“He told me there is an opportunity there for me and it’s my choice to grab it and that’s all I ever wanted,” said Mulder, referring to Kentucky head coach John Calipari. “I didn’t want any promises of minutes or shots. I just wanted to know the opportunity is there for me to grab and I chose to grab it.”