July 11, 2008
Moraga, CA - Early Friday morning in Australia, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) announced its 12-man roster for the men's basketball team. Saint Mary's point guard Patrick Mills' dream came true and as he will make his Olympic debut in Beijing, China on August 10.
"It is such an honor for Patrick Mills to represent his country in the 2008 Olympic games, and to earn this honor at an early age, makes it even more impressive," said Saint Mary's Head Men's Basketball Coach Randy Bennett. "Saint Mary's College is extremely proud to have a member of its program achieve such an outstanding accomplishment. It will be exciting for our program and community to watch one of our own represent Australia in the Olympic Games."
With 12 teams competing for the gold medal in Beijing, Mills will be the only men's basketball player that is a current player in collegiate basketball in the United States. Additionally, at the age of 19 (he turns 20 on August 11) he is the youngest player on any Olympic roster. He is also the youngest player to ever make the Boomers roster for Olympic competition.
"There are only 12 countries that qualified for the Olympic games, and for Patrick, who will be 20 years old when the Games begin, to make the Australian team and be in a position to contribute is unbelievable. Patrick is not just a spectacular player, he's a special person as well. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to coach an Olympic athlete," said Bennett.
The 12 countries that will compete in this year's Olympic games are split into the following two groups; Group A: Argentina, Australia, Iran, Lithuania, Russia, Qualifier A; and Group B: Angola, China, Spain, USA, Qualifier B and Qualifier C. The teams participating in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament who will fill the three undecided berths are Cameroon and Cape Verde (Africa), Puerto Rico, Brazil and Canada (Americas), Lebanon and Korea (Asia), Greece, Germany, Croatia, and Slovenia (Europe) and New Zealand (Oceania). The draw for the remaining three qualified teams will be held on 20th July 2008 in Athens, Greece.
Mills becomes just the third undergraduate student and fourth student at Saint Mary's to compete in the Olympic Games. The other three students are Joseph Lang '33, who competed in boxing in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles; Heather Pease, who competed in synchronized swimming in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta; and graduate student Valerie Fleming M'03, who competed in bobsledding in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Mills is among six Australian players making their Olympic debut in Beijing. "The young players are going to be very important to our results," said Bryan Goorjian, Australia head men's basketball coach. "They'll be playing and contributing in Beijing but you'll be watching them for the next two Games to come."
Australia has drawn a tough group for the Games, facing Athens gold medallists Argentina, Asian champions Iran, Lithuania, European champions Russia and one team to be determined in a qualification series next week. Goorjian will however put his team up against the United States in a pre-Olympic face-off in Shanghai on August 5.
Men's basketball section of the 2008 Australian Olympic team:
David Andersen / Forward/Centre / 212cm
Chris Anstey / Centre / 213cm
David Barlow / Guard/Forward / 205cm
Andrew Bogut / Centre / 213cm
CJ Bruton / Guard / 188cm
Joe Ingles / Guard / 203cm
Patrick Mills / Guard / 181cm
Brad Newley / Guard / 198cm
Matthew Nielsen / Forward / 209cm
Shawn Redhage / Forward / 202cm
Glen Saville / Guard/Forward / 197cm
Mark Worthington / Forward / 202cm