Patrick Mills Interview
Talk about the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS). What are the big advantages and disadvantages of this kind of education for a child growing up, compared to the way basketball players grow up in the U.S.?
Well, it's an institute program that's separate from school. So the AIS is not instead of school. It's a developmental program for all aspects of life in sports, not just on the court or playing field. The main advantages are that you mature and become independent as a teenager. I moved out from home at 15 to live at the institute, kind of like an American boarding school, except we were all there for our respective sports. So off the court I learned a lot about time management, and sorting appointments out, and then on the court as well... I got to play with the top 12-14 guys in the country at my age range (15-19), which compared to America where there's one or two other guys on your team who may be good. Also, our AIS basketball team played regularly against teams in the league just below the Australian Basketball Association, the 2nd tier below the pro league. It was their offseason, and but for us kids, we got the chance to compete against men and learn about the game from that experience.
Tell me about
your workouts. How have they been going so far?
They've been good. It's an exciting experience and a new process that I haven't been involved in until now. You have to learn on the hop. I've worked out against some great players, especially the point guards. The combine went well, and I'm on my way to the airport right now where I'll fly to Itally for the Treviso camp.
Which players that have
worked out with you have impressed you the most?
I've worked out with Jeff
Teague, Eric Maynor, Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry, Toney Douglas, and
several other good guards. Just competing with them has been great.
I truly believe I'm up there with them. You know, these workouts
don't give you that much to show. They're limited to an hour
so you got to give it your all in a short time.
What do you do better than all those guys you just mentioned?
For me being a point guard and as a captain of my team, I've always though my leadership is one of my big strengths.
What are you hearing about
where you might be taken and who has expressed interest in you?
Late first round, around 20
to 30. I think that's realistic... late first round. The
goal for me is to be picked in the 1st round.
What have you worked on most from last year to this year, and right now as you prepare for the draft?
In a general sense, one aspect
has been my leadership skills - running a team in the half court and
full court situations. Game management. I've worked also
on developing my shot in the past couple years. And a big one
in preparation for the draft has been learning all about on-ball screens
defensively. That's big in the NBA... the pick and roll.
Many scouts say that in order to make it in the NBA, you have to have at least one skill that's transferable to the next level that can make you successful. What would that be for you?
Decision making in the paint... I like to get to the rim, but there are times when you get there and you don't have the option to finish, where you have to retreat or work off two feat, there are many options... so I've been watching a lot of Tony Parker, Aaron Brooks and Chris Paul... watching what they do in those situations. Because that's my main skill for sure, getting into the paint.
Who in your life has always given you advice you can count on?
My mom and dad. They've
been closest to me. Another person is my uncle Banny Morseau.
He's a real historical person in Australian basketball. He was
the first indigenous basketball player to represent Australia in the
Olympic games and Australian Championships. This was in the early
80s. But he's given me a lot of advice and I listen to him closely.
Tell me about your upbringing... what was your family life like?
I'm indigenous Australian. My mom is aboriginal and my dad is from Torres straight in the islands. I'm an only child. I'm From Canberra. I've been to Catholic schools for all my education, even here in the States at St. Mary's.
Were your parents athletes?
They both played basketball
- not professionally but they both played. And as I said, my
uncle was a great player, so I have basketball in my family.
Which NBA player did you imitate growing up?
I didn't watch a whole lot
when I was really young. I played Aussie rules football too, which
is a rough sport, so that helped with my toughness in basketball when
I was a kid. I did watch Michael Jordan and those championships,
and then when I moved to AIS at age 15 I watched more NBA.
Which player do you compare yourself to now?
Tony Parker is someone I've had a close eye on for a while. My game is similar to his game, the way he uses his speed, pick and rolls, his decision making in the paint... leadership.
What's the biggest difference between the level of play in college and the level of play in international competition?
Physically there's definitely a difference. There are a lot of athletic guys in the college level now, but at the international level there are guys who are very smart who know how to use their strength and their body to their advantage on the court.
How does your game change in those levels, respectively?
In college, I'm the captain and the team leader, just naturally as the point guard. But my role internationally was different. My role in international play is more of a backup role. So I was supposed to come in for 10/15 mins, bring a lot of energy. push the ball full court on offense and ride the PG full court on defense. So internationally, I had a sense of urgency to go all out, you know?
For the people who didn't
see the Olympics, that was really my coming out party. I was coming
off the bench and then ended up as the top scorer for my team in the
Olympics. That's what makes me believe I'm ready for the next
level. I played against Ricky Rubio and against the Argentinean guards
and American guards, and I played well. And I didn't do a lot
of losing at St. Mary's. We had a great record and I focused
a lot on understanding how to win. So I'm definitely ready.
Alright Patty, this looks great. Is there anything else you want to say about yourself?
Yes. Something else to understand about me is that I'm indigenous Australian, so I'm representing all those people. I want to get an opportunity to be in an organization who understands this, that I'm of that culture and can be marketable in that way. As I said before, my uncle was the first indigenous basketball player to represent my country in the Olympics, and now I'm just the third. I see myself as a role model for kids especially indigenous kids in Australia. I want to show them they can do what I'm doing - any kid can give it a crack and accomplish their dream. My cultural heritage is where I draw my strength, that's high on my priority list. I represent my family, but I also represent my indigenous culture. I'm in a rare, unique position, because our opportunities are limited in Australia and we need role models.
I have had the blessing of seeing Mills in action a few times at St. Mary's. He is always faster than everyone else on the court and he is not lying or fabricating when he talks about his leadership. His team rallies around him and is nothing when he's not on the court. He's got the talent to make a mark in the NBA, and I am sure he will be in the NBA for a long time.
I think he's taking a bit of a risk by going. He is talented, but this draft is so deep with point guards that will go ahead of him. From what I'm seeing, he is a bubble first rounder. I think he could go much higher next year with a healthy full season and a weaker pg draft. I suppose if he's selected in the 2nd round and doesn't get a contract, he can play oversees for a lot of money.
Patrick Mills is a ready made player who should be treated with greater respect than what he is receiving from American fans and media. Which part of scored 20 points off the bench and burnt Chris Paul at the 2008 Olympics don't people get? He deserves to go first round, he has the potential to be Australia's best ever player at the highest level.