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Woodward hoops standouts excel academically this school year

Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 18:50:17-05

CINCINNATI — Woodward High School junior Paul McMillan IV is rated among the nation's top point guards in the 2022 class.

The basketball standout has several significant scholarship offers and plenty of interest from some of the nation's top college basketball programs.

McMillan, 17, would like to play in the NBA one day, but his focus isn't just basketball at the moment. He also has a 4.43 grade-point average in school.

"I take lots of pride in my work in the classroom," McMillan said. "Just as hard as I work in basketball, I work as hard in the classroom as well. My end goal is to get to the NBA, and when you get to the NBA, you are doing these big things and you are making a lot of money and you are investing in a lot of stuff. You got to be smart about it."

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It's that eye toward the future that makes Bulldogs coach Jarelle Redden so proud of McMillan and senior guard Aaron Davis, who has a 3.9 GPA.

"As a former public school graduate myself (Western Hills High School), I understand how hard it is to maintain the best grades possible in the environment that they're in," said Redden, who has been the Woodward head coach since July 2017.

"I just think it's great and I feel like they set an example. They are letting it be known that you can go anywhere and be great at what you're doing on and off the floor."

Cincinnati Public Schools is in remote learning during this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That hasn't changed the commitment from Davis and McMillan each day.

"Since we've been online, they still have the same work ethic, still in communication with all the teachers," Redden said. "It's exciting to be able to coach basketball and see guys understand that it's student first and athlete second."

Davis, 18, is interested in sports therapy and sports medicine.

He already has studied the health field at the high school and is weighing options from the likes of Alabama A&M, Norfolk State, Jackson State and Florida A&M for academics and athletics.

"It's a good feeling knowing I'm taking care of my business and doing what I got to do," Davis said.

Davis, who would like to play basketball overseas one day, said he likes the fact that he's setting an example for his younger teammates and classmates at Woodward.

"I've got to do everything right so that when they get older they can do it for the people younger than them," Davis said. "It just carries on."

McMillan, who hasn't had less than an A average in high school, has an interest in real estate and said he takes a great deal of pride representing Woodward on and off the court.

"I really felt like everyone needed to understand and know what these two guys are doing, because it's not easy and the way they make it look easy -- they make it seem like everybody can do it," Redden said. "And I know they're capable of doing it, but I know it's not easy. You've got to put the work in."

Davis and McMillan both said the Woodward basketball program represents so much to them.

"Woodward basketball at this point of my life means everything to me," Davis said. "Everything that I've accomplished in my life has came through Woodward basketball, or Woodward basketball has had something to do with it. And so Woodward basketball means a lot to me and I'll do whatever for it."

McMillan has followed the Woodward basketball program since he was 8 years old. His father, Paul McMillan III, is a Bulldogs assistant coach.

McMillan IV said he's inspired each game by the legacy of late longtime family friend Dennis Bettis, whose namesake is on the court.

"With the passing of coach Bettis, that really hit me hard," McMillan said. "Every time I go out there I just think about him. What he would've thought about this game, just try to make him proud every time I go out there and wear a Woodward uniform. That's what I think about every time I step onto the court."