On Thursday, the Drake University basketball team announced the hiring of Jamelle McMillan as the coordinator of basketball operations. It is no secret that his relationship with Bulldogs’ head coach Mark Phelps was significantly influential in this career move.
“I was thinking about working somewhere in the NBA but because they are probably heading for a lockout they weren’t hiring anybody,” McMillan said. “Three weeks ago coach Phelps asked me if I would be interested in this position and with coach Phelps it just came down to trust. I have known him since I was a little kid, he was the coach who recruited me to Arizona State and is a big reason why I joined the Sun Devils.
“Drake has a great name and is a program that is on the rise. There are a lot of great people out there that will help me in the short run and in the long run. After I visited here for a few days I decided to make the move. I have never been to Iowa before and it is completely different from what I am used to, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
McMillan said that his responsibilities will include scheduling of road trips, as well as scheduling of recruiting visits, practices and weight room schedules. As someone who is barely removed from the game the former Sun Devil expects to be a mentor to the players and their activities on and off the court.
“In a way you’re an assistant coach without having the role on paper,” McMillan explained. “It’s a position where you are held accountable in several different areas and you have a lot of responsibility both basketball wise and school wise. It’s definitely a challenge for players to have to get used for a day that starts at 5, 6 am and doesn’t end until 7 pm and as someone who just left that type of situation I can relate to what they are going through.
“This is something I feel very comfortable with and I’m excited to start doing it and doing it very well.”
McMillan stated that playing under ASU’s head coach Herb Sendek, and being part of the Sun Devil program in general, has prepared him in many ways for his first job out of college.
“Balancing the basketball part of things and the life part of things is something I learned from him (Sendek) as well as discipline,” McMillan stated. “Coach Sendek said that it’s always about opportunity. Whether it’s getting an opportunity to play more minutes on the floor or doing something off the court, you always have to be ready and keep an open mind and an open heart and when the opportunity comes to be ready to pounce on it.
“As a point guard being able to run a team and organize a team, you are in a leader position. This is something that will help me transition very very well. The job I’m going into will be very demanding much like being a point guard.”
McMillan played in 122 games for the maroon and gold and tied a school record winning 80 of those contests of his ASU tenure, 78 of them which he started in. The former point guard obviously enjoyed more team success in his first three years in Tempe, but individually had his best season as a senior.
In the 2010-11 campaign ASU’s captain led the Pac-10 with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.68. He averaged 11.0 points in the final 11 games and was 23-of-50 (.460) from three-point range. McMillan posted three of the top scoring games of his career in the final 11 contests.
Even at the culmination of a disappointing 12-19 senior season, McMillan was able to see to realize some benefits of what was certainly a trying year and none of them are necessary related to the stats he achieved.
“It has been a rocky road,” McMillan confessed. “But very blessed and fortunate to be a Sun Devil. I have been to the NCAA tournament and also finished last in the conference. I feel that my last year was very beneficial because I learned so much. So much was going on and thrown at us and having to deal with the adversity was eye-opening but also something I know can help me at Drake and later in life.”
“I don’t if I could have picked a better university to attend. I had a great group of coaches and players to work with for all my four years and great professors too. I can’t thank them enough for the time and work they put into me and I really hope that ASU is as proud of me as I am proud of the school.”