Chicago State lands Mills

Jonathan Mills, a former North Lawndale standout, averaged 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds last season for Eastern Utah. Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.com

Tracy Dildy has made a career out of recruiting Chicago’s top players as an assistant for head coaches around the country.

Now, Dildy is doing it for himself.

Dildy made his first recruiting splash as Chicago State’s first-year coach Monday, receiving a commitment from former Public League star and current Eastern Utah sophomore forward Jonathan Mills.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Mills chose Chicago State over interest from DePaul, UIC, Central Michigan, UTEP, TCU and others.

“Tracy Dildy has a reputation of bringing in good players -- Quentin Richardson and those guys,” Mills said. “I put my trust in him.”

Mills averaged 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman while helping Eastern Utah to a third-place finish in the NJCAA Division I tournament. Mills is ranked the 49th top junior college player in the country by jucojunction.com.

Mills was known for his rebounding and tenacity when at North Lawndale in Chicago. He was an all-state selection as a senior and arguably the state’s top rebounder. He averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds during his senior season and had a couple games of 20-plus boards.

“I think this means a great deal for Chicago State,” North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe said. “They get a winner. Mills is a winner wherever he’s gone. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s just got a gift. His gift is he attacks the glass and plays at a high level, and he plays at that level all the time.”

Mills plans on carrying that over to Chicago State for his final two years of collegiate eligibility.

“I know with the name I have and the reputation I have and the style of basketball I play, I know I can change that program as soon I get on campus,” Mills said. “With me, it came down to I had to go to junior college for two years, and I have no time to waste. I didn’t feel like I would be able to come in and make impact at [DePaul or UIC] as I could at Chicago State. I don’t have time to play behind anybody. I have to come in and make the program the best I can make it.

“I’m going to be like the player I’ve always been. I can make them a winning program. I did at North Lawndale. It’s been 46 years since Eastern Utah made it to nationals. Me as a freshman, I took them to nationals and finished third. This year I look forward to taking them to first.”

Chicago State also recently received a commitment from Vocational 6-6 senior forward Rayshaun McGrew, who also plays in the Public League.