University of Maine guard Blanca Millan takes a shot during a game against UMass-Lowell earlier this season in Orono. Photo provided by University of Maine athletics

Blanca Millan has had a hectic couple of days, and they’re about to get busier. That doesn’t mean the University of Maine women’s basketball standout has not enjoyed all of it. Sunday afternoon, Millan signed a contract to attend training camp with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and only one thing has removed the smile from her face since.

“I was stressing a little about packing, so my smile went away for a couple hours, but then it just came right back,” Millan said in a Zoom call Monday afternoon from her hotel room in Washington, D.C.

Millan is the third Black Bear to get a shot in the WNBA, joining Cindy Blodgett and Jamie Cassidy.

A native of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Millan averaged 21.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this past season, helping Maine to a 17-3 record and the America East Conference championship game for the fifth consecutive season. Millan was named America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for the second time, the first player to earn both honors twice.

Millan leaves the Black Bears as the fifth-highest scorer in program history, with 1,974 career points. Millan was on track for 2,000 career points before the 2020-21 season was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, Millan ranked 15th in the nation in points per game and 15th in the nation in steals per game, with 2.90. Millan was a finalist for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year award.

University of Maine standout guard Blanca Millan surveys the court during a game against UMass-Lowell earlier this season in Orono. Photo provided by University of Maine athletics

As soon as Thursday’s WNBA draft was complete, Millan received a text from her agent, Ticha Penicheiro, who herself played 15 seasons in the WNBA. Penicheiro wanted to make sure Millan was fine after her name wasn’t called, and let her client know she was talking to some teams about securing Millan a training camp contract.

“I didn’t have any expectations with the draft, honestly,” Millan said.

Throughout the day Friday and Saturday, Millan waited while Penicheiro worked on her behalf. Saturday night, Penicheiro told Millan she was having serious discussions with the Mystics.

“They didn’t have any draft picks, so it would be a great chance,” Millan said. “Sunday morning early she texted me and said, ‘you’re going to Washington.’ ”

Ten minutes later, Millan took a phone call from Mike Thibault, Washington’s head coach and general manager.

“He was very excited about it. He gave me no time. He said ‘You’re either flying Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.’ Then they started talking to me, all the assistant coaches, all the people in their organization, to make it happen. Now I’m here,” Millan said.

In the Mystics, Millan joins a team not far removed from a championship. The Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019. Washington finished the shortened 2020 WNBA season with a 9-13 record, and lost to No. 5 Phoenix in a first-round elimination game, 85-84.

Millan has individual workouts the rest of this week, and her first team practice with the Mystics is Sunday. Washington begins the season May 15 at home against the Chicago Sky. To make the roster, Millan thinks she needs to continue doing the things that made her a strong player at Maine and that starts with working hard at both ends of the court.

“I just think I have to be myself from the beginning, you know? Something that separates me from the rest of the players is I can do both, play offense and defense, I think. It’s going to be really important for me to do it from the first day. I don’t have that time to adapt to a new system. I’ve just got to do it from the jump,” Millan said. “I have this week to kind of see what they want from me, to show them my skills, and then just be myself.”

Blodgett, a Clinton native and the all-time leading scorer at Maine, was selected by the Cleveland Rockers as the sixth overall pick of the 1998 WNBA draft. Blodgett played one season for Cleveland and three seasons for the Sacramento Monarchs, where she was teammates with Penicheiro. Cassidy signed with the Miami Sol as an undrafted free agent and played 22 games with the team in the 2000 season.

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