Former Virginia basketball star Akil Mitchell suffers eye injury


Akil Mitchell suffered a gruesome eye injury Thursday night in a National Basketball League game.

Former Virginia men’s basketball player Akil Mitchell suffered a gruesome eye injury Thursday night in a National Basketball League game between his New Zealand Breakers and the Cairns Taipans in Auckland.

Mitchell was fighting for a rebound under the basket when Cairns center Nnanna Egwu poked him in the left eye. Falling to the floor, Mitchell covered his eye with his right hand as teammates and medical personnel quickly gathered around him.

Fans on the baseline reacted visibly to the sight of the 24-year-old Mitchell, whose left eyeball had been dislodged from its socket. After a near 15-minute pause in action, Mitchell rose to his feet to the sound of relief-filled applause ringing out in the North Shores Event Centre.

Staff members escorted him to the area hospital, where Mitchell was promptly treated and released. According to Breakers general manager Dillon Boucher, Mitchell’s injury does not appear to be as severe as it first appeared. However, he will undergo further tests this week.  

Mitchell exited Thursday’s contest with a double-double at 13 points and 10 rebounds, and he is averaging 9.4 points and seven rebounds per game this season. The Charlotte, N.C. native — who attended the same high school as former Cavalier forward Anthony Gill — played a prominent role in Virginia’s foundational 2013-2014 season, in which the Cavaliers won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

Mitchell garnered ACC All-Tournament Second Team honors, averaging 6.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in statement wins over Florida State, Pittsburgh and Duke. As a senior leader that year, Mitchell averaged 6.8 points and 7 boards per game while anchoring head coach Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense — earning him a spot on the All-ACC Defensive Team.

Beyond his impactful stats, Mitchell was a fan favorite amongst the Cavalier faithful. Should he return on an off-day to Charlottesville for his former teammate Malcolm Brogdon’s jersey retirement ceremony Feb. 20, it would make for an even more special occasion.

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