Fan favorite and core member of the Mercer Bears basketball team, forward Brian Mills has signed a contract with Lusitania Angra Patrimonio Mundial, a team in the 12-team Portuguese League, better known to the rest of the world as Liga Portuguesa de Basquetebol or Portuguese Basketball Premier League.
As for a comparison, this is the NBA for Portugal. He will not be the only American on the roster, either, as he will play alongisde Terrance Hundley of UC-Riverside and Momplasir Marcel of Rhode Island.
The team is located in Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal. They are best known for having won the 2006-2007 Portuguese Cup over Benfica, one of the most powerful teams in the league to date. Lusitania went 7-15 last season. Mills will be the second-tallest individual on the team, adding size down low and depth to the post play.
Not only does this promise Bears fans that a Mercer great will get to keep playing at the next level, but it will add more credibility to the Mercer basketball program. The more players that get to play professional ball, the more knowledge of Mercer spreads around the world.
With Mills starting in his rookie season, there is even more facetime for him, his career and Mercer’s visibility. This is the sixth individual to get a pro contract under Coach Bob Hoffman’s tenure at Mercer, following Calvin Henry, Sidiki Straub, Daniel Emerson, E.J. Kusyner and James Florence. When speaking to the Mercer Bears Athletics’ website, Coach Hoffman said it was a great opportunity and that Mills’ “blue-collar style” will impress his coaches and fans in Portugal.
For those unfamiliar with Brian Mills, the 2010-2011 season saw him lead the team up against tough competition and come out stronger. A first-team selection for the All-Atlantic Sun Conference team, Mills averaged 16.2 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game in the final 33 games of his senior season. Mills led a youthful team into a close loss versus Belmont during the Atlantic Sun tournament. He is 20th on Mercer’s all-time scoring list, with 1,138 points. The tally is impressive when he had to compete for playing time during the early part of his career while behind the five who got pro contracts.
Lusitania’s season starts on Oct. 15 against Sampaense.
As for Mills himself, he is really excited and nervous to begin play. “The contract process was a bit nervewracking as a rookie. It was tough to be patient and wait for the call. It was a surreal feeling when my agent called me and told me I had an offer,” Mills said about the signing process. “Discovering that you’re getting to play basketball professionally is incredible,” he added.
In two preseason games, Mills had 10 points and six rebounds, followed up by 17 points and six boards. Both were tough losses, but Mills started both games. He said that he had little to complain about because he gets to live near the ocean and play basketball.
Speaking to his coach, Mills discovered that he was recruited primarily based on his stellar senior season, and will be asked to perform the same basic role that he did at Mercer. He will be the primary scorer and rebounder for a squad that was lacking height.
The Cluster would like to once again congratulate Brian Mills on this terrific opportunity to start and succeed in the Azores, Portugal, and will continue to update his play overseas.