Oral Roberts lands Baylor assistant Paul Mills as next men’s basketball coach

In this Lariat file photo from a Jan. 24 matchup against Texas Tech, junior guard Al Freeman looks to scoot past competitors and make a basket. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

After making the Sweet Sixteen and reaching new heights by ascending to No. 1 in the country, Baylor men’s basketball has faced a few consequences.

For Baylor head coach Scott Drew, one of them will be replacing one of his assistant coaches, Paul Mills.

Oral Roberts University confirmed on Friday that Mills is their basketball program’s next head coach.

In an ORU press release, Mills said that he is thrilled to begin the next step in his professional career.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in the release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead.”

ORU’s Director of Athletics Mike Carter said that it was Mills’ experience and his ability to develop student athletes that made him such an appealing hire.

“This is an exciting day for ORU basketball. Coach Mills has a wealth of top level NCAA experience and comes to us fully prepared to advance the ORU men’s basketball program to new heights,” Carter said in a statement on ORU’s official athletic website. “I love the passion Coach Mills has for his players and this will be key as we continue to develop whole person champions. Coach Mills is here for the long-haul committing to a five-year contract building toward a Golden Eagle men’s basketball future.”

Mills was on staff at Baylor for 14 years, the last eight of which highlighted his defensive intensity and his ability to recruit.

Drew said Mills’ winning pedigree will serve him well at Oral Roberts.

“Paul can flat out coach,” Drew said in a statement. “He’s won at every level that he’s been at and he will win at ORU.”

Mills will have a difficult task at hand, walking into a program that finished 8-22 overall and last place in the Summit League in 2016-2017, including a 76-61 loss to Baylor on Nov. 11.

Mills knows the task ahead is difficult but said he is unafraid of the challenge and told fans at his introductory press conference on Monday that they’re going to be a team to see in the upcoming season.

“I’ve been in the Mabee Center. We’re going to fill it,” Mills said. “You do not want to be in the navy blue seats. Those are good seats, but you want to be in the gold seats. You’re going to want to be as close to this action as possible.”

Oral Roberts’ 2017-2018 season is not yet complete but it will compete in the Legends Classic Nov. 20-21 in Brooklyn, NY. The tournament will also feature Oklahoma State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Montana, Pepperdine University and the University of California Santa Barbara.