Last season it was Murray State. In 2011 it was BYU.
Every year seems to provide us with a little guy that ardent college basketball fans adopt early in the season. Sometimes, that team sticks around well into March, other times it does not.
With the ultra-talented Tony Mitchell deciding to return to North Texas for his sophomore season, we already may have a non-BCS conference team to keep an eye on entering the 2012-2013 season.
That's right, Mitchell, the former Missouri Tiger commit and consensus top 20 player from the class of 2010 who never played in Columbia due to academic issues, has decided that life in Denton, Texas isn't so bad.
"I love these guys to death and want to come back," Mitchell told the Denton Record-Chronicle. "I like the college atmosphere. An extra year will help me to become a better player and get stronger. I have improved on and off the court. I need another year to mature."
On the surface, Mitchell's decision is both confusing and fascinating.
He's an elite college basketball talent who never got to make a splash in the Big 12, and instead had to sit wait until after the last fall semester just to play in the Sun Belt. You would think he was simply staying loose for half a season before spending this spring to earn a slot in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft.
He did not, but whatever the true motivation is for Mitchell to stay in the college game is a huge win for the Mean Green.
Coming back to flank Mitchell is enough talent to make this team much more than just conference favorites next season, as freshman Chris Jones and Jordan Williams will be back for their sophomore season after also sitting out considerable time last season.
Together this trio forms a great nucleus of talent to lean on.
At full strength, this is a very dangerous little guy who will have a fair shot to get plenty of positive attention next season.
They still have to prove themselves, but on paper the realistic aim for next season should be higher than just being part of the field of 68.