Beth Blackburn - Pelicans.com
Player development profile: Jamelle McMillan
By: Blake Moore, Pelicans.com
A former point guard and team captain at Arizona State, 25-year-old Jamelle McMillan has already made a name for himself in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans.
After starting out as a coaching intern in 2012-13, Jamelle just completed his second season as a player development coach for the Pelicans. He said he views himself as a “utility guy.”
“I don’t cater to one particular guy. I’m here for everybody,” said McMillan, son of former NBA player and head coach Nate McMillan. ”I’m there for whoever needs me around and whichever coach needs me to help out, I am there.”
He’s currently working with forwards James Southerland and Luke Babbitt. He also has been helping assistant coach Randy Ayers with some of the “bigger players,” centers Jeff Withey and Alexis Ajinca.
“This is a time where you get better as an individual,” said McMillan, who was the director of basketball operations at Drake University before joining the Pelicans. “You don’t have a lot of time to do it during the year. There’s a lot of maintenance work.”
Pelicans Coach Monty Williams has a close relationship with the McMillan family. He worked for Jamelle’s father, Nate, as an assistant coach for five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. Jamelle McMillan said Williams is one of the main reasons he came to the Pelicans.
“The guy hasn’t changed since I’ve met him. Moving from assistant to head coach he’s been a genuine guy the entire time,” McMillan said. “There’s nobody I trust more than that guy. At this level and in this career, I felt comfortable with him and the guys he had around him. They resemble exactly what he stands for and represents.”
Williams has said that the team’s player development program wouldn’t be what it is without McMillan’s contributions.
“Jamelle’s been around the game since he was a baby,” Williams said. “He’s got it in his blood.”
Being the same age as most of the players, McMillan has played with or against a lot of the Pelicans since they were in high school. He said a big challenge has been to move away from the friendship level and into one with a little more authority.
“I have all their best interests in mind. It’s not something that’s coming from just because we’re buddy-buddy. I genuinely want to see them do well,” McMillan said. “I’m trying to separate myself from the teammate role and into the coaches’ role. That’s not trying to be a dictator or anything like that, it’s just helping them get better in any way I possibly can.”
Looking to next season, McMillan said the Pelicans are capable of being in the postseason.
“Whatever that takes, whatever we have to do to take that next step, two steps higher we have to do it,” McMillan said. “We have to embrace it and do it together.”