The college offers are starting to come Avery Mills’ way.
The eighth-grade basketball sensation from Mekeel Christian Academy received an invite from Niagara University on Wednesday, and the University at Albany extended one a month ago, according to her dad, Mike Mills.
Avery Mills was impressive as a seventh-grader with the Lions varsity, and even more so this past season when she averaged 22.1 points, led her team to the Section II Class B final and landed a spot on the all-state first team.
“She can definitely play,” Mekeel girls’ basketball coach and athletic director Kelsey Collins said of the 5-foot-7 guard. “She’s really good. I would assume in the next four years she will be getting more looks.”
Colleges have been reaching out to the youngster through her dad, who serves as an assistant coach with the Mekeel girls’ team. He said 14 Division I institutions have expressed interest in his daughter, who Thursday Tweeted out news of the UAlbany offer.
“Excited to have received my first offer from Coach Mullen and Coach Methven! Thank you for the opportunity!” Mills’ wrote in her Tweet.
“Albany has been following her since last year when she was the WAC Player of the Year,” Mike Mills said.
Rhode Island is among the institutions that have been in contact with Mike Mills concerning his daughter. Rhode Island’s incoming freshmen class will include Dolly Cairns, who finished her career at Saratoga Springs as its career scoring leader with over 2,000 points.
“I just knew if I worked hard, that hard work would pay off,” Avery Mills said. “I knew people would be reaching out.”
The Daily Gazette All-Area second team selection, who nailed 63 3s and averaged 6.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 steals last season, said she has set no timetable for her collegiate decision.
“I want to play Division I. don’t know what my future might be, but it’s exciting to think about it,” Avery Mills said. “My focus now is to continue to work hard.”
Effort is among the 14-year-old’s trademarks.
“The thing about Avery, what stands out, is her tremendous work ethic and true love for the game,” said Mekeel Head of School and boys’ basketball coach Chad Bowman. “Over the years we’ve had her, she’s never been satisfied. She will work every part of her game and will convert weaknesses into strengths. She’s got four more years of high school, and it’s exciting to see what she can do.”
Avery Mills has been playing basketball for as long as she can remember.
“When I was younger, me and my dad and my older brother [Trent] would play, they’d roughed me up,” she said. “I got better and better.”
“She has been self-driven since she was real young. I got her into karate when she was 6 years old, and she was laser focused,” said Avery’s mom, Heather Mills. “It’s something inside her, and it goes from friendships to school work to varsity sports. That’s her character.”
With schools closed and social distance protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Avery Mills has been doing a lot of solo work this spring.
“Usually 500 shots a day,” she said. “Sometimes 600.”
Avery Mills has also been working out six times a week with her personal trainer, who happens to be her mom. The objective, the youngster said, is to gain muscle and strength, which will enable her to more effectively drive through traffic on scoring bids.
“Every night except for Sunday,” Heather Mills said of those workouts. “It’s her personal want.”
Avery Mills scored in double figures in every game as an eighth-grader for 21-3 Mekeel, which included a 32-point outburst when the Lions beat Fonda-Fultonville 74-49 in the WAC Cup title game. She notched 31 points when the Lions outlasted Johnstown 67-57 in overtime in a Section II semifinal game.
Several Section II junior girls basketball players made Division I college commitments earlier this week. Olivia Olsen of Niskayuna and Meghan Huerter of Shenendehowa both selected Providence as the future destination, Valencia Fontenelle-Posson of Guilderland will play for Siena and Lilly Phillips of Cambridge will play for UAlbany.