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Patrick "Patty" Mills (born August 11, 1988 in Canberramarker, ACTmarker) is an Indigenous Australian point guard who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. He is especially noted for being one of the first Indigenous Australians to make a major name for himself in basketball and one of the youngest players ever to suit up for the men's senior national team, the Boomers.

Early life and career

Mills' father is a Torres Strait Islander and his mother is an Aborigine from the Ynunga people of South Australiamarker. He was first exposed to basketball as a four-year-old with The Shadows, an Indigenous Australian team that his parents established.. Mills attended Marist College Canberra where he played a variety of sports in addition to basketball, such as rugby and athletics. He served as ball boy for the Canberra Cannons of the NBL around 2000. During that time, his family developed a close relationship with Cannons player David Patrick, who would eventually play a key role in Mills' career.

At the age of 15, Mills was selected for the ACTmarker U18 squad to compete in the Australian National Championships. The following year, Mills accepted a full-time scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sportmarker, which had also developed two-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson and current Milwaukee Bucks player Andrew Bogut, where he continued to develop as a player. He also made a strong impression at the 2005 Australian Olympic Youth Festival, an event considered to be a showcase for future elite sporting talents.

In January 2006, he received the RE Staunton Medal as top player in the Australia under-20 national championships. In April that year, he received more international attention when he was named to the World team of under-20 players that played a US team of the same age group at the Nikemarker Hoop Summit in Memphis, Tennesseemarker. Mills led the World squad with 6 assists and also added 8 points in a losing effort. He was one of 22 players invited to try out for the Australia squad for the 2006 FIBA World Championship, becoming the youngest player ever to participate in a Boomers training camp. While he was in training with the Boomers in July, he was named by Basketball Australia as the Junior Male Player of the Year. Mills also had an outstanding 2006 season with the AIS men's team in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL), earning him a place on the All SEABL East men's team and the honour of 2006 SEABL U-21 Australian Youth Player of the Year. He went on to be named the 2006 Basketball Australia Player of the Year, and also received two major awards from Indigenous Australian organisations—The Deadlys Award for Most Promising New Talent in Sport and NAIDOC's National Sportsperson of the Year.

Debut with the Boomers

After repeating as Staunton Medallist in 2007, Mills completed his scholarship with the AIS and opted to play for Saint Mary's. Before arriving in the Bay Areamarker in August 2007, he played for Australia at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Serbiamarker, in which Australia finished fifth. He was then called up to the Boomers in July 2007, making his debut against Austria on July 31 in an international friendly tournament in Bormiomarker, Italy. Mills scored 11 points off the bench and was credited with changing the complexion of the match, which Australia won 84–63. This not only made him one of the youngest Boomers ever, but also made him only the third Indigenous Australian, after Michael Ah Mat in the 1960s and Danny Morseu in the 1980s, to play for the Boomers. Mills went on to make the Boomers squad for the FIBA Oceania Championship, which doubled as a qualifier for the 2008 Olympics. His main highlight in the competition, which was a three-match series against Australia's trans-Tasmanmarker rivals New Zealand, came in the second and ultimately deciding match. Mills came off the bench to score 17 points, helping lead the Boomers to a 93–67 rout of the Tall Blacks that punched their ticket to Beijing.

Mills was a member of the Australian squad that gave the USA Basketball team its closest tune-up game of the summer before the Beijing Olympics. The USA National team beat Australia 87-76 in its exhibition game in Shanghai, China. Australia's star player, the Milwaukee Bucks' Andrew Bogut, did not play because of a sore right ankle. Mills, the youngest player on the floor, was impressive as he added 13 points for the Australian squad.

Mills averaged a team-best 14.2 points, all off the bench, in the six games the Aussies played in Beijing. He scored 20 points in a quarterfinal loss to the United States, with three assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 28 minutes.

Saint Mary's College

Mills signed with Saint Mary's during the NCAA national early signing period in November 2006. Although he was pursued by several other NCAA Division I schools such as Utah (where Bogut played before coming to the NBA), Wake Forestmarker, Alabama, and Nebraska (where he would have joined fellow Australian Aleks Maric), he came to Saint Mary's, indicating that he was comfortable with the Gaels' head coach Randy Bennett. Also, just prior to the 2006-07 season, Bennett had hired Mills' old family friend David Patrick as an assistant coach. Mills became the fifth Australian that Bennett successfully recruited since arriving at Moraga in 2001. One of the other Australians to have played under Bennett at Saint Mary's was fellow AIS old boy Daniel Kickert, the Gaels' all-time leading scorer. Mills also followed in Kickert's footsteps in another way, becoming the first freshman to start for the Gaels since Kickert did so in the 2002-03 season. He first broke into the American basketball consciousness in his fourth game of the 2007-08 season, when he scored 37 points to lead the Gaels to an upset of nationally-ranked Oregon on November 20, 2007. The win also validated preseason expectations for the Gaels, who were picked before the season to finish second in the West Coast Conference behind traditional conference superpower Gonzaga. The Gaels went on to start the season 7-0 and earn their first national ranking since 1989. The Gaels also won the 2007 edition of the Rainbow Classic, an annual eight-team December tournament hosted by the University of Hawai i, with Mills being named tournament MVP.

The Gaels were nationally ranked for most of the season, ultimately finishing second in WCC regular-season play to Gonzaga. After the regular season, Mills was named WCC Newcomer of the Year and also made the All-WCC first team. At the end of the regular season, Mills was the second-leading freshman scorer in the WCC at 14.4 points per game, and also led all WCC freshmen in assists (3.47 per game) and steals (1.80 per game). Mills also shot 32.3 percent 3-point shooter as a freshman.

The Gaels went on to the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the first round to Miami . In that game, Mills' 24 points made him the only Gael to score in double figures, and he also led the Gaels with 5 assists.

Despite the enormous time difference between Australia and the U.S. West Coast—during most of the US college basketball season, Mills' hometown of Canberra is 19 hours ahead of the Saint Mary's campus—Australian television has telecast Gaels games live. Also, nightly newscasts in Australia frequently feature Mills' highlights, even though basketball occupies only a small place in the Australian sport scene.

During the Gaels' game against Gonzaga Universitymarker on Jan. 29, 2009, Mills broke his hand while trying to break a fall. He underwent surgery and did not return until the WCC Conference Tournament in March.

NBA career

In April 2009, Mills entered the 2009 NBA Draft, waiting until the final minutes of the deadline before making the decision. He was selected with the 25th pick of the second round (55th pick overall) by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Mills suffered a fracture in his right foot during practice for the NBA Summer League. He had surgery on the foot and is expected to miss four to six months and the Blazers' training camp.

Patrick Mills signed with the Blazers on the on October 16, 2009 after much speculation of whether he would be signed at all after the injuries he has incurred and the number of point guards already on the roster.

Career highlights

  • 2009 - Drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2nd round of the 2009 NBA Draft, the second Indigenous Australian to be drafted into the NBA
  • 2008 - Australia Post Boomers squad member; Beijing Olympics
  • 2008 – WCC Newcomer of the Year, All-WCC First Team
  • 2007 - MVP Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, Saint Mary's College Tournament Champions
  • 2007 - West Coast Conference Player of the Month: December 2007
  • 2007 - West Coast Conference Player of the Week: November 26, 2007 and December 26, 2007
  • 2007 - In just his fourth NCAA game for Saint Mary's, Patrick dominated with 37 points against Oregon - the sixth best return in the school's history, and best by a first year player.
  • 2007 – Australia Post Boomers squad member; Under 19 Men squad member;
  • 2006 - Boomers squad member (youngest at 17 years of age); AIS scholarship; Australian Junior Camp; U20 World team at Nike Hoops Summit (USA); U20 National Championships representing ACT and RE Staunton Medallist
  • 2005 - AIS scholarship; Australian Junior Camp; Youth Olympic Festival Australian Men’s team (gold); U18 National Championships representing ACT
  • 2004 - U18 National Championships representing ACT
  • 2003 - Marist All Ages Basketball Tournament - MVP
  • 2003 - Champagnat Medal, Marist College Canberra


References

  1. (free registration required)
  2. (scroll down page to reach article)
  3. Mills is sometimes credited with being the youngest ever, but this is incorrect. Mills debuted on 31 July 2007, at the age of 18 years 11 months. But the AIS Representative History page records that Andrew Vlahov, born 1 April 1969, debuted in 1987, so Vlahov could not have been older than 18 years 9 months.
  4. (free registration required)
  5. [1]


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