After leaving his hometown of Allen, Texas to pursue a Division I basketball career in Binghamton, guard Brenton Mills kicked off his collegiate career averaging 9.7 points per game and breaking double-digit scoring 11 times as a freshman. The expectations are high for Mills to be an even bigger contributor as a sophomore.

“I feel like I had a pretty good freshman year,” Mills said. “[It] didn’t end the way I wanted it to, so I’ve been trying to work hard to get better so I could have a better sophomore year.”

Having led his high school team to a 35-5 record at Allen High School and a state 6A championship, Mills seemed to be a strong prospect to the Bearcats. He played football until his sophomore year of high school but stopped playing to focus on basketball, eventually leading to his commitment to BU.

“Binghamton was a great idea because I love playing for [Binghamton head coach Tommy] Dempsey,” Mills said. “I feel like he’s made me a better player and I really love the culture he’s trying to establish here.”

Last season, Mills started all 29 games with the Bearcats, averaging 31.5 minutes per game. He was named America East (AE) Rookie of the Week twice, his second of which came after Binghamton’s game against UMBC back in January. Mills scored 22 points in the narrow 79-75 win over the Retrievers, finishing as the game’s top scorer.

While making a name for himself at Binghamton, Mills has drawn inspiration from players at the highest level.

“I take driving to the basket from Russell Westbrook,” Mills said. “His relentlessness to get to the basket at will, attacking downhill — I’ve been trying to make that transition to my game a little bit.”

Even with Mills and other talented, young players starting for Binghamton last season, the Bearcats still found themselves sitting at the bottom of the AE standings last March. However, Mills is eager to take up a new role this season and push for a spot in the playoffs.

“I’d be more of a leader, try to get everybody involved as well,” Mills said. “I think communication will be a big key for us this year. I feel like I should be more of a vocal leader to help our team rise to the next level.”

Since the Bearcats were only recently permitted to begin official team practices, Mills found it hard to gauge expectations for next season, having less than a month’s worth of training under the team’s belt. However, he remained optimistic about the Bearcats’ performance for the coming months.

“I feel pretty confident,” Mills said. “All teams have a lot to work on and we still have a long way to go, but I feel like the way we’ve been working together and our chemistry is getting there.”

Despite the team’s inability to practice together for much of the offseason, Mills said it still seemed as though he had an important role to fulfill as a major contributor to the team.

“[I was] just trying to stay consistent, keep working hard and be there for my teammates as well to do whatever to help us win,” Mills said.

With the season scheduled to get underway in the near future, Mills is looking forward to the team’s potential in his sophomore season.

“You only get better or worse,” Mills said. “I’m hoping to have a great sophomore year.”