- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett held out hope throughout the weekend that Patty Mills would look at the dearth of point guards in the draft, see that he was a borderline first-round pick and then decide to return to Moraga for his junior season.
Bennett waited until the final minutes of the deadline Monday afternoon when he finally got word that Mills was staying in the June 25 draft.
The one word text Bennett sent, "Gone," symbolized the Gaels' frustrations. Gone is the Australian Olympian, the Gaels' headline name and their link to possibly catching Gonzaga in the WCC or a possible NCAA tournament berth.
Mills went to the Reebok Eurocamp last week in Treviso, Italy where he shined well enough to warrant staying in the draft.
Bennet cited Mills' work ethic and passion for the game in a statement, saying he will flourish as a professional.
"I respect and support Pat's decision to stay in the draft and we wish him the very best in his pursuit to play in the NBA," Bennett said in the release. "He's been a tremendous ambassador to our basketball program, and we will miss him as a person, a leader, and a basketball player."
Mills played in 26 games for the Gaels, averaging 18.4 points and 3.9 assists. He missed nine games last season with a broken right hand. He returned for the WCC tournament but wasn't well enough to lead the Gaels to the NCAA tournament.
Saint Mary's lost to San Diego State in the postseason NIT quarterfinals.
"I want to thank the coaching staff, and especially my teammates at Saint Mary's, as they have played a major part in helping me get to this point in my career," Mills said a statement released by the school. "I appreciate everything they have done to help me along the way, and they deserve a lot of the credit. Saint Mary's is my home away from home."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss