tampabay.com

McMillen ending 18-year career

By NANCY MORGAN
Published December 17, 2006


This season, Stetson senior Gabe McMillen Indian Rocks Christian closes out a basketball career that began when he was 4.

McMillen, 22, played a variety of sports growing up before keying in on basketball in the seventh grade. Stints on the Largo recreation teams were followed by AAU team competition, then junior varsity and varsity. McMillen played the two-guard position up until college, then was converted to point guard.

"A point guard is like a floor general who leads physically and vocally," McMillen said. "You've got to be a good passer and try to get everyone else involved in the game. A point guard is really an extension of the coach on the floor."

Since his freshman year with the Hatters, McMillen has played in every game, starting three times his freshman year and twice as a sophomore.

As a junior, McMillen started 25 of 32 games and set a school record for single-season 3-point percentage (.467) that was second in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

"Playing the two-guard through high school gave me a lot of chances to shoot," McMillen said. "That may have helped me at the 3-point range and it certainly helped me for the position I'm now playing."

After a stellar high school career, McMillen chose Stetson, largely due to family connections, he said. His mom attended law school there and two uncles, Brad and Randy Weston, played basketball for the Division I school.

"The biggest difference I noticed was the size of the school," McMillen said. "I came from a graduation class of less than 50. Being a part of a team definitely helped in the transition from high school to college. Also, the speed of the game was greater in college."

The general business major hopes to help his squad, which was 3-6 through Friday, reach the NCAA Tournament.

"I like how we're playing offensively right now and our overall team effort," said the Hatters' only senior. "We're not quite as sharp defensively yet, although that's expected with a basically new team from last year. We have been improving and hope to get to the Big Dance."

"After college, depending on how the season goes, I may want to play basketball somewhere," McMillen said. "If not, I'll go home and get a job."

MORE BASKETBALL: Sophomore Collins Okafor (Countryside/Marshall) is a starting center at Stetson.

- Nick Miller (Clearwater) tossed in 17 points in Embry-Riddle's 70-54 win over Johnson and Wales. The senior forward is averaging 10.6 points per game and leads the team in free throw shooting percentage (.800).

- Greg Cummings (East Lake/West Point Prep) is a senior forward for Saint Anslem.

- Starting senior forward Brian Ligon (Lakewood) is averaging 5.5 points per game for Butler and is third on the team in rebounds with 43. Against conference opponent Cleveland State, Ligon connected for eight points in a 70-45 win.

SOCCER: Sophomore Kathleen Pollard (Seminole) played in all 21 games for Winthrop, starting 19. The defender contributed to the team's 13-5-3 record, the best in school history.

- Freshman Matt Skonicki (St. Petersbrug Catholic) started in 10 of 16 games for Big South champions Winthrop. The midfielder tied for fifth in team scoring with 11.

- Freshman David Pollard (Seminole) played in all of UNF's games. The forward scored three goals for the Osprey.

- Sophomore Samir Plavotic (Northeast/Louisberg College) scored his first goal for UNF in a 5-0 win over Palm Beach Atlantic.

- Freshman Patrick Carter (Clearwater) played midfield in nine games for UNF.

- Starting midfielder Lena Mullaney (St. Pertersburg Catholic) closed out her career at UNF by scoring eight points in 19 games.

- Sophomore goalkeeper Rachael Howard (St. Petersburg) collected 44 saves in 14 starts for UNF.

- Florida State junior midfielder Libby Gianeskis (Tarpon Springs) scored her first career game-winning goal in a 3-2 win for the Seminoles over Wake Forest.

- Becky Thompson (Clearwater Central Catholic) is a freshman goalkeeper for FSU and Annie Stalzer (Palm Harbor University High) is a freshman midfielder. Thompson played in two games and Stalzer in 11.

TRACK: In the Clemson Opener, Georgia Tech's Ashlee Kidd (St. Petersburg) won the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.24 and was second in the 60-meter dash. The senior is the defending ACC Indoor 400-meter champion and a two-time All-American.

FOOTBALL: Alex Plomaritis (Shorecrest/Dickinson College) was inducted into the Dickinson College Hall of Fame last month. Plomaritis, class of 1993, helped the Red Devil teams to a 34-5-3 record over four years, including two NCAA appearances. As a sophomore, Polmaritis was ninth in the nation in rushing with 137.6 yards per game.

- U.S. Coast Guard Academy junior Jesse Harms (Lakewood/Naval Academy Prep) was named to the D3football.com All-East Region first team. Harms' 41.6 yards average was ranked fourth nationally.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.