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Bhandal overcomes injury, emerges into college commit

Arrish Bhandal is committed to Chicago. Cliff Jackson / Staff Photo
Arrish Bhandal is committed to Chicago. Cliff Jackson / Staff Photo

Mitty senior forward/center Arrish Bhandal will never forget the hardships he experienced two years ago.

Bhandal missed his sophomore season with an injury. Instead of being able to suit up in the Mitty uniform, he was relegated to sitting on the bench, watching his teammates compete while all he could do was just sit there.

But what that year taught him was to never take anything for granted. Give it 100% no matter what.

Because you never know when the game can be stripped away.

“It’s really tough having to watch your teammates from the bench and feeling helpless like you can’t do anything,” Bhandal said. “Every time we’re in the deep or we’re going through adversity, I think of that time. I think about the time that I couldn’t play, and now being blessed and grateful that I’m on the court now. Just leave everything out there.”

So, Bhandal used that as motivation going forward, and look where he is now.

Bhandal is a University of Chicago commit and a key contributor inside on a 7-1 Mitty team that is ranked No. 2 in the Bay Area. 

“It’s been a long journey being injured my sophomore year, handling a lot of adversity,” Bhandal said. “I think that’s also one of the things that motivated me is just that the injury my sophomore year, missing that whole year. Knowing that I lost a year compared to everybody else and having to go through that and just having to work through that.”

This year, Bhandal made it a point to get stronger and put on more weight, as he added 10 points. Conditioning was another point of emphasis.

All of that was shown in a 20-point display in an 87-79 win at No. 10 Dublin on Thursday. Bhandal was Mitty’s leading scorer in that massive road matchup, handing Dublin its first loss of the slate. 

Bhandal simply wants it. He chases every loose ball. He crashes the offensive glass.

Wherever the ball is, Bhandal is there, getting putbacks, dunking it, playing exceptional defense and scoring at will.

“Just being aggressive in the paint,” Bhandal said. “When I’m aggressive, I feel like nobody can stop me. Just being aggressive, crashing the boards and just playing every game like I have something to prove.”

Bhandal heard from a number of schools before choosing to go the Division III route to a prestigious school like Chicago, choosing the university over three Division I offers from Army, Marist and Navy. 

“Recruiting was very unusual because of COVID, but I’m glad I found a home in the University of Chicago,” Bhandal said. “I love the coaching staff. I love the school and I’m excited.”

That unusual period during COVID, especially in California, where things were shut down for months and basketball was pushed back, made it tougher for student-athletes to get their name out there.

But Bhandal made sure to market himself, along with using the resources around him to make sure he reached the next level.

“Simply Basketball, Terence Ching. He really helped me,” Bhandal said. “He made a little highlight tape for me. I sent those out to a bunch of coaches. Coach TK Williams was in touch with a bunch of coaches, and just putting myself out there as much as I could despite having COVID and stuff like that.”

Although there will be no state tournament in 2021, that is not holding Bhandal and Mitty back from achieving the highest of whatever is out there.

One goal: win a second consecutive Central Coast Section title.

“Despite not having NorCals and stuff, we always try to hold ourselves to the highest standard,” Bhandal said. “We want to win the WCAL Tournament and we want to win CCS. And we know what we’ve got to do to get there.”

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