Since I was raised in Spokane, it 's hard not to be a Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball fan. But when they were recently beat by their ranked conference contender St. Mary's of California. I was impressed reading about a spectacular freshman point guard from down under, a rare aborigine player who plays on the national team, Patty Mills. Here's an exerpt from an ESPN article on St. Mary's:
If it sounds like Mills and his mates are fitting right in at the small Moraga, Calif., school, you're right. Bennett started cultivating a pipeline from Down Under in 2001, when, after he took over a 2-27 team and was desperate to add a point guard, he lured Australian Institute of Sport product Adam Caporn to the United States. Caporn's presence then helped the Gaels land talented forward Daniel Kickert, one of Caporn's former teammates at the elite development academy. Kickert helped lead the Gaels to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. And now, along with Mills, there are two other Australians playing for the Gaels.
Mills' own recruitment started when he was 16 years old and the Kickert-led Gaels played AIS during a tour of Australia. Saint Mary's handily won the exhibition, but according to fifth-year senior Todd Golden, who was the point guard that day, he had his hands full with the precocious Mills, who scored 17 points and caused Golden to catch some grief from his coaches.
"I didn't feel as bad [about that game] when he put 37 on Oregon," Golden said with a laugh.
Mills said Saint Mary's was able to close the deal when Bennett personally made a trip to Canberra to meet with Mills' family. The presence of assistant coach David Patrick, a native Bahamian who had a long career in Australia's professional league and is a friend of the Mills family, also helped.