OAKLAND — A chance still exists that Saint Mary's College star point guard Patty Mills will withdraw his name from the NBA draft and return to Moraga. But it's going to take NBA executives telling him he needs to return to college.
"I haven't heard that yet," the Gaels sophomore guard said.
It sounds as if Mills' departure to the NBA is all but a done deal. Speaking with media after a group workout at the Warriors' downtown facility Monday, Mills said he doesn't need a first-round guarantee to keep his name in the draft and that he's certain he can play at the NBA level.
Mills has not hired an agent, which allows him to withdraw his name as late as June 15. If he does hire an agent, sources close to Mills said, he's going to sign with Oakland-based Aaron Goodwin.
Monday's workout for draft prospects featured two hour-long sessions in the presence of executives from some 20 NBA teams. Mills participated in 3-on-3 competition with lesser-known point guards such as Wake Forest's Jeff Teague and Arkansas' Patrick Beverly. Mills said he was tired, having flown from a workout in Chicago the day before, but still felt good about his performance.
Mills said all he needs is for NBA teams to concur that he's ready to play at the next level. Mills pointed to NBA stars Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas as reasons he's fine with the prospect of slipping to late in the first round or even the second.
During a Los Angeles Lakers visit to Oakland to play the Warriors, Mills got a chance to talk with Kobe Bryant in the Lakers locker room. The two first met in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, where Mills, Australia's point guard, became notable in NBA circles thanks to his performance against Team USA.
He said Bryant's advice was to believe in himself and believe he can play at the NBA level. It seems Mills has such belief. So much so that he's not buying the idea of going back to college and entering the draft next year, when the point guard crop isn't expected to be so thick.
"It's even more of a challenge," said Mills, who will head to Italy on Wednesday for Eurocamp and still has workouts scheduled with Detroit, Atlanta and Milwaukee. "In a sense, if I came back next year, it would be taking the easy way out."
Saint Mary's senior forward Diamon Simpson, who was a reserve at Monday's workouts, said he doesn't want to push Mills in either direction. Simpson said he was pretty sure Mills could play at the NBA level but that after watching him Monday, he has no doubt.
"I'm a lot more certain now," Simpson said. "It's a good possibility he's gone."
Mills' likely successor at point guard for the Gaels is junior-to-be Mickey McConnell, who started 13 games last season, including during the span when Mills was sidelined with a broken right hand. McConnell, 6-foot, averaged 5.4 points and 2.2 assists per game, shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range.
Staff writer Jeff Faraudo contributed to this story. Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.