Ties to Sendek Run Deep with McMillan

From a young age, Jamelle McMillan and Herb Sendek have formed a strong relationship. Sendek was then the head coach at NC State, and the guard, son of former Wolfpack star Nate McMillan, would frequent Raleigh to visit his family. Since Sendek's arrival in Tempe, McMillan has been heavily considering the Sun Devils. Will that connection be strong enough to ultimately land him at ASU?

We caught up with the 6-2 180 Jamelle McMillan, prior to his trip to Las Vegas and his last ever AAU tournament. "Hard to imagine that my tournament coming up is my last one ever," he said. "I'm very pleased with my play in the spring and in July. I definitely improved in a lot of areas, I do a lot of different things on the floor, and my confidence has been really helped."

The O'Dea (Wash.) standout has been gaining a reputation as a lockdown defender ("something I always took pride in," he remarked.), and one who distributes the ball before looking for his own shot. Is this a result of the strong influence of a father who was an ex-NBA star? "I think my game is something that has definitely been modeled after him," he admitted. "He got everyone involved, but did score when it was necessary. It was always defense first with him. I do see a lot of him in me, when I'm out on the floor."

The elder McMillan's influence on his son is quite prevalent, even though he holds a demanding head coaching job with the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. His advice holds a delicate balance between being helpful, but not overbearing. "He's obviously limited to how many games he can come and watch with his job," said the point guard. "We have all the games for him on tape, and in the off-season he's been able to come to some of my tournaments. Every opportunity he has, he makes sure he's there."

"His advice is worth a million dollars because he played at the highest level and that's the level I want to get to," continued McMillan. "He tells me as much as he can, and I try to absorb it as much as possible. At the same time, he does let me go off on my own a little bit and figure out things for myself at times. I could never imagine having a better role model."

Arizona State's head Coach Herb Sendek's influence seems to be only second to Jamelle's father. The familiarity factor among the two cannot be overstated. "My family has a house really close to the North Carolina State campus," explained McMillan, "and I went to many camps there, and lots of my family members work around that area. So I obviously have been around there a lot. I established a relationship off the court as well as on the court with Coach Sendek throughout the years. They are all amazing guys, Coach Sendek, Coach Phelps, Coach Miller…those are role model type of people that I would love to play for. I talk to them a lot, and a lot of times it's not just about basketball. They're not only coaches, but also friends."

When asked what one quality of Sendek is exhibited more than the rest, McMillan replied: "Passion. When he wants something he'll go get it. I've seen that through my recruitment, through games he coached, conversations off the court…he's a very determined person who's all business, but can also be loose and fun to hang out with. He's an all-around great guy."

McMillan acknowledged that he was a bit shocked when Sendek decided to leave North Carolina State for Arizona State, mainly because of the great accomplishments he has enjoyed there. Naturally, due to the relationship between the two, his feelings have been altered towards the Wolfpack, who were believed to be at one time his overwhelming favorite, and Arizona State. "As far as my recruitment, it (Sendek's career change) really wasn't a big deal," claimed McMillan, "but it made me think about other options like ASU. I'm not really sure about NC State now. I don't know the coach real well, but my dad knows him better than I do. I do know more about NC State as a school than Arizona State, but I will be down there (at ASU) in the future, and I want to see how I feel in that environment. We'll see what happens after my visit." He added that right now he's targeting his official visit to the maroon and gold to take place in the middle of September.

McMillan, who's Scout.com's top West Coast point guard, and 15th overall in the nation at his position, is also considering Georgia Tech, Stanford, Illinois and Clemson. He doesn't consider staying closer to his home and playing for a Pac-10 school, as a factor that will significantly influence his decision. "It would be nice to come play at Washington once a year," he remarked. "I have a lot of friends that go there or will be going there like Isaiah Thomas. I do have other friends that are gonna play in other Pac-10 schools like USC and UCLA, and that would definitely make the games more fun and something to look forward to. But as far as making a decision, I don't think a school being in the Pac-10 makes a huge deal for me."

Being a highly sought after prospect, can come with some drawbacks. McMillan on the other hand, chooses to be reflective on an enjoyable time period that is quickly coming to an end. "It started off with a little letter from Oregon State my freshman year and that was a very exciting time for me," he recalled. "And now through my junior year, going onto to my senior year, I've been talking to some of the best coaches out there, Coach Krzyzewski, Coach Williams, Coach Izzo…just knowing how much you're wanted around different universities around the country - it's a great feeling. I was fortunate enough to be healthy the last three summers, and have an opportunity to showcase myself in the different tournaments. It's kinda sad that it's all coming to an end pretty soon – I really enjoyed the process."

McMillan knows that his recruitment process is now entering "a serious time", and that a verbal commitment is expected from him in the next three or so months. He understands the enormity of this pronouncement, and therefore will be taking a calculated approach along with a resolve to better himself as a player in the process. "You just want to make sure that you take in all the positives from your game," he said, "learn from all the negatives so you can improve, take some visits, and make a decision on where to spend the next four years of your life. I want to do it by the end of October before season starts and before signing day."

In the meantime, Arizona State and his other suitors wait with bated breath…

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