In this Feb. 20 photo, Blanca Millan (right) of the University of Maine looks for an open teammate as New Hampshire's Adara Groman defends during an America East basketball game in Orono. Millan is gearing up to turn professional. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine athletics

Blanca Millan is looking forward to next Thursday night’s WNBA draft.

The University of Maine’s senior guard, who this season became the first player to be named America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year twice in the same season, is one of 57 collegiate players who have entered the draft pool.

Europeans who didn’t play collegiate basketball in the United States are also included in the pool.

The draft will consist of three rounds with a total of 36 players being selected by the 12 teams.

Millan is excited about the possibility of being drafted but knows the odds are stacked against her.

“There are so many great players,” Millan said.

“But we’ll see what happens.”

Millan has hired an agent who has been in contact with some WNBA teams.

Even if she isn’t drafted, she’s hoping to get a tryout with a WNBA team. If nothing materializes, Millan will look to pursue a professional career overseas.

“I will talk to my agent and decide what is my best option,” she said.

UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said she doesn’t know if Millan will get a look from a WNBA team, but knows that isn’t her only option.

“She will play professional basketball. There’s no doubt about that,” Vachon said.

Vachon’s former UMaine teammate, Cindy Blodgett, played from 1998-2001 in the WNBA, which began play in 1997.

Blodgett appeared in 65 games for Cleveland and Sacramento after being a first-round pick (6th overall).

“Blanca works very hard and has very high goals. What makes her unique is that she plays both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, and that will help her out a lot,” Vachon said.

“Blanca challenges herself. She’s up for every challenge,” Vachon said. “She got better every year.”

The 6-foot-1 Spaniard concluded her UMaine career as the school’s No. 5 scorer with 1,974 points. She is second with 324 steals and third with 216 3-point field goals.

Millan capped her career with her best season, averaging 21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.3 assists per game. She ranked 15th in the nation among 336 schools in points and steals.

She has been spending 1 1/2 hours per day, six days per week, preparing for her pro career.

“I’ve been working on improving my individual basketball skills and I’ve been lifting [weights]. I want to be in the best possible shape in case I get an opportunity.”

Millan said playing pro basketball has been a dream of hers since she was little, and that her five years at UMaine have prepared her well.

“I have really enjoyed my time here. It has been great for me. I’ve grown as a player and as a person,” Millan said. “My coaches and teammates pushed me every day to become better. And I’ve made friends for life.”

Millan is grateful to UMaine’s athletic training and medical staff for helping her rehabilitate her right knee after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament during the sixth game of the 2019-20 season and underwent surgery.

She received a medical hardship waiver, then returned for a fifth year.

This season didn’t end the way she and her teammates wanted, with a 64-60 loss in the America East championship game. UMaine, which won its third conference regular-season title in four years, finished 17-3.

The Black Bears also earned two league titles and earned trips to the NCAA Tournament during Millan’s career.

“I was glad to be able to play an extra year with my teammates. To win three regular-season championships and two tournament championships isn’t easy,” she said. “It was a very special class.”