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NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS Tony Mitchell is being called one of the best high school basketball players in the country.

He was named the top college prospect in the City of Dallas, and he led his team deep into the playoffs this year.

But News 8 has confirmed that Mitchell will not graduate with the rest of his classmates this weekend, and his college future could now be in jeopardy.

Sports writers call the Pinkston High School star one of the best high school forwards in the country. He averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds a game during his senior year, leading his team into the regional tournament for the first time ever.

Mitchell also captured the attention of several major colleges and committed to play for the Missouri Tigers next fall.

But News 8 has learned that Mitchell may not be headed to the University of Missouri at least right away.

Mitchell transferred to DISD's Pinkston High School last summer from the Center of Life Academy in Miami, Florida, where he was their star player as a junior.

But a closer look at the Florida school starts to reveal a possible problem.

Center of Life Academy is a private school accredited by a home schooling association that is not recognized by DISD. In a Web site presentation, the school makes these claims:

OUR ATHLETIC PROGRAM FEATURE ONE OF THE BASKETBALL PROGRAM IN THE NATION. OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS OUR TEAMS HAVE COMPETE AT THE HIGH LEVEL...

Sources tell News 8 that 14 of the high school credits Mitchell brought with him from the Miami school were not transferable at Pinkston High School. But last November, Principal Norma Villegas let Mitchell quickly make up the credits.

Sources said he took the equivalent of nine course make-up exams in two days five of them over a two-hour period.

Mitchell passed every test, and in just a matter of hours went from being a freshman at Pinkston to qualifying as a senior.

Several educators we talked to call that an extremely rare achievement.

Mitchell then led the Pinkston basketball team deep into the playoffs.

When News 8 started asking questions, DISD's Office of Professional Responsibility began an official investigation. As a result, sources say Mitchell's make-up test credits were taken away.

DISD officials will neither confirm nor deny the findings.

News 8 has also learned that on February 25, after the investigation began, DISD officials forced Pinkston to forfeit one game due to Mitchell being ineligible to play.

Head Coach Nicholas Smith is being suspended for one game next season.

Mitchell's mother told News 8 that questions about her son's eligibility have already been resolved; that he has done nothing wrong; he has earned all of his grades and credits; and will graduate with the rest of his class.

But we have confirmed that he will not graduate with the rest of his class this weekend.

The findings of DISD's internal investigation are to be released in thecoming days.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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