Mills was instrumental in giving Lewis Thorpe his first Illinois Class 2A state basketball championship this season. "I would describe Jonathan Mills as a workhorse," said Thorpe. "He's the hardest working kid. I'm not just talking about on the court. I'm talking about in practice. I don't think he is as skilled as a lot of the top flight ballplayers out there. But, I don't think there is one out there that works as hard. I think it makes up for some of the things he lacks. He's a warrior"
Mills finished his junior year at North Lawndale averaging 16.7 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. The 6-5 left-handed forward consistently pounded the glass all season to record a double-double in almost every game. Despite his size, Mills has an uncanny knack for knowing where the ball is coming off a missed shot. "His rebounding is his best strength," said Thorpe. "I thought he was the best rebounder in the city."
Most of Mills' scoring comes in the paint and off of offensive putbacks. He is looking to expand his game more to the perimeter. "He needs to work on his outside shooting, although his midrange game is better than a lot of people think it is," said Thorpe. "He's good at catching and shooting, but I think he needs to work on creating a shot for himself. Another one would be creating with his right hand. I don't think he's capable of breaking people down with his right hand consistently at the college level."
The Phoenix took home the state trophy in March with Mills in the starting lineup. One year earlier, Mills wasn't academically eligible to play for North Lawndale and the Phoenix were runners-up in Class A. "Last year we came in second place, I always said that Jonathan Mills cost us the ring," Thorpe related. "I said in the beginning of the year to Jonathan ‘you're a key component. You're the most important player in this program, with you we win State.'"
"We knew that we were going to go as far as he could take us," recalled Thorpe. "It's not just his hard work, it's also his leadership. He's a leader and he's a winner. If you're doggin' it, you're going to hear about it from Jonathan Mills. He's going to do whatever is necessary to win the game for you. If there is a loose ball, he's going to get it. If there is a rebound that nobody else can get to, he's going to come down with it. He just makes things happen. He has a very good basketball I.Q. and he's a solid passer. He's very unselfish. I think that sometimes he's too unselfish. I'd like to see him look to score more and I'm hoping that will happen in his senior year."
Mills was named to the Class 2A All-tournament team in recognition of his play throughout the playoffs. "To win the championship game this year, it showed that I am a team leader and a big part of the team," Mills said.
Mills is an accomplished two sport star. Besides his basketball prowess he is also a pitcher for North Lawndale in the Chicago Public League.
In April, Mills attended the Kingwood Classic in Houston, Texas with the Mac Irvin Fire AAU team, but not before first going to his Junior Prom at North Lawndale. "I had prom that Friday and the team had already had a flight out," Jonathan said. "So, I went to prom and got a flight out of Midway (airport) to go straight to the games (on Saturday)." It was there in the Houston airport the next morning, that the Mac Irvin Fire coaches found Mills sleeping, still wearing his white tuxedo from the night before.
Mills must have gotten enough rest, because he lead the Fire team to a huge upset over the Atlanta Celtics and top ranked prospect Derrick Favors at Kingwood. "I played hard and I gave it all I had," Mills said. "Favors is a good ballplayer. He worked hard, but I had to work harder to get the W."
Mills' hard work on the court has started to pay off as he has attracted interest from Baylor, Chicago State, DePaul, Illinois-Chicago, Marquette, Northeastern, Southern Illinois, Texas A&M Corpus-Christi, Western Michigan, and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"I would say DePaul has been on him the hardest," Thorpe remarked.
Stay tuned to WeAreDePaul.com for the very latest on Jonathan Mills and other Blue Demon recruits.
Class of 2009 Focus: Jonathan Mills
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