Last summer we sat down with Saint Mary’s Husky star Alaina McMillan, despite not reaching her goal of making it to the division one level, she has found a way to make a name for herself despite all of the adversity she’s faced.
NORTH: So how did you get started playing basketball?
A: Uhmm, I’ve been playing basketball since I was 5. I grew up playing a variety of sports but basketball and soccer being the main ones. My father met my mom in the Dominican and I was born there. So when I came to Canada my dad put me in a range of sports and activities, so technically I’ve been playing basketball for 15 years now.
NORTH: So, what city are you from?
A: I’m from Brantford, Ontario. It’s known for the Gretzky center and all that.
NORTH: What is the hoops culture like out there?
A: I mean, it was decent growing up, a small community so there was not that big of a talent pool but the competition was pretty good.
NORTH: Who were your biggest influences growing up? Were there any pro’s that inspired you?
A: Uhm, my grandpa was a big Celtics fan growing up. I love Rajon Rondo, that’s why I’m number 9. Him as a point guard, the way he saw the court and all of that. As for females? I was a big Notre Dame fan. So, I loved Skylar Diggins. You know how in AAU everyone wears headbands? Yeah, when I put it on, I’m like “I am Skylar Diggins” LOL. But the two other guards who influenced me were Kyrie & Chris Paul.
I like a lot of small point guards because I get to see how they go about the game and not let their size be a disadvantage but rather use it as an advantage in the game.
North: Did you play any AAU basketball?
A: Yeah, I played for Blue Star under Richard Nurse, all throughout high school. I got a lot of exposure and had a lot of great experiences. I traveled a lot during the summer playing in various tournaments. Kia Nurse came around when she was at UCONN and we had the chance to workout with her. I’d say the biggest advantage was to be coached by someone who was that good and has gone through the whole process.
A: Most athletes including myself were so focused on only going D1 or nothing, i feel like we don’t realize how many other opportunities there are out there for them aside from D1.
North: How was the recruitment process for you?
A: Well when I went to Lincoln prep I was surrounded by a lot of really great players like Hannah Halls. So, when tournaments would be going on, a lot of coaches were there to watch Hannah, I was more like a break for Hannah. But when I met Scott (Scott Munro Saint Marys huskies women’s head coach), & i decided to go to smu, he told me, “you’re an adult, you know why you’re here. If you want to get better then get better.” So he does not make things 100% mandatory whereas a lot of other coaches are on their players, its up to you to develop.
North: What are some of your basketball goals? Maybe team Canada? WNBA?
A: Umm, I don’t really see myself going WNBA if I’m being realistic. But for this upcoming year I would like to continue being the MVP for SMU and become a first team all-star. But my major goal is to become a USports All-Canadian.
North: What do you think you got to do to reach those levels?
A: I think a big thing I have been working on is different finishes at the rim. Obviously because I am small, I can’t make the same drives as some forwards on my team. So i’ve been working on a lot of floaters, jumpers, euros, just getting comfortable with different scenarios.
North: Lastly, do you think you guys can win the AUS this year?
A: 100%. I’m not just trying to sound confident. We really have good players, and we are the fastest we have ever been just in transition and running the floor. If we utilize that correctly it will be an advantage. Sometimes fast teams can get disorganized, but I feel if we have that under control, we have a good chance of winning nationals.
Alaina’s journey isn’t the same as everyone else’s but she’s found a way to make a name for herself, doing things her way. Comparison is the thief of joy, follow your path and make the most of your journey.