Mitch Lewis spent his four years in high school as an all-conference player on both the Naperville North football and basketball teams before moving on to play football collegiately as a tight end at Miami of Ohio. In 2019, Lewis made the move to play at Illinois State University, but his career was stopped short by injuries during his time as a Redbird. In fact, it was a season ending knee injury on his first career touchdown catch in 2021 that forced him to hang up the football cleats. Once the former Huskie was healthy again, Lewis decided to use his final year of college athletic eligibility to return, not only to his hometown of Naperville, but also to the basketball court.
“I never thought I would come back to basketball, it just worked out when I was doing physical therapy on my knee, and I wasn’t ready to give it up because I knew I had another season. So, playing those sports in High School and all my life really helped me into a smooth transition back onto the basketball court,” said North Central College senior Mitch Lewis.
Back at home
Lewis, the 2016 DVC boys’ basketball player of the year, is back on the court with the North Central College men’s basketball team, alongside some familiar faces in Metea Valley graduates Matt and Ethan Helwig, who Lewis competed against during his high school days. After a long time away, the former Huskie is happy to be back home.
“I didn’t expect to be back here but I am. It’s really nice that my family is so close to be able to watch and my friends’ family and it’s nice that I have a lot of people that can support me,” said Lewis.
Overcoming injury obstacles
Despite years of injury frustrations and more than five years away from playing competitive basketball, the transition back to the hardwood has been smooth. Now in a Cardinal uniform, Lewis is the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder behind Matthew Helwig, averaging over 15 points and five boards per game. Lewis is not the only new face on the NCC sidelines, as first year head coach Anthony Figueroa is now at the helm, replacing longtime head coach Todd Raridon. The first-year man from Parkland has been impressed with Lewis’s play once he stepped on the court and is thrilled to have the scoring punch that the 6’5 Lewis provides to the North Central lineup.
“It’s almost miraculous to see a guy who has not played organized basketball as long as he has and come into a game setting and be successful at a high level. So it makes you wonder all the time like if this guy would’ve played four years of college basketball, where would he be and how good would he be,” said first year North Central head coach Anthony Figueroa.
Potential run for the Cardinals
It’s been a season full of peaks and valleys for the Cardinals, but with the addition of Lewis and the scoring ability of the Helwig’s a big run down the home stretch for NCC is possible. Regardless of how far the Cardinals go into the CCIW race and beyond, Mitch Lewis is glad to return to the basketball court one more time before closing out his college athletic career.
“There’s really nothing like going out there with the people that you’re working with day in and day out and just competing and having fun first and foremost so I will definitely miss that,” said Lewis.