March means a lot of things at the University of Kentucky. Spring Break. Warmer temperatures. And of course, March Madness.
UK alumnus Cameron Mills, who played a central role on the UK men's basketball 1998 NCAA championship team, knows the excitement firsthand.
The Lexington native, who studied psychology in UK's College of Arts and Sciences, decided to share the story of the "Comeback Cats" in the form of a documentary, called "Out of the Blue." As a co-executive producer, he built upon the success of his previous production about the 1996 NCAA title team, "The Team."
We recently sat down with Mills to talk not only about national titles, but to understand how his overall UK experience has shaped him into the person he is today.
UK: Since leaving UK, you've worn a lot of different hats. What’s your "day job"?
Cameron Mills (CM): My calling, if you will, is Christian ministry. My life changed at 7 years old when I accepted and believed that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was for my sin. Since I was 12 years old, I felt compelled to share with others who Jesus is. I started traveling and sharing this message when I was a freshman at UK and have been doing it for 20 years. So that is the most important job. But I also work for a national home care and hospice company called LHC Group. I do a radio show on Sunday nights and for the last two years I’ve produced two documentaries on two of the Kentucky national championship teams I was on in 1996 and 1998.
UK: What else do you do after the work day ends?
CM: Actually, that's about it. It’s almost all work but I love each and every job or project I take on, though there have been brief moments of burnout here and there. I’ve got my hands in so many different things my brain or enthusiasm stays motivated. Other than “work” I enjoy time with friends and love photography (https://500px.com/cmills).
UK: You also have recently added “producer" to your resume. Tell me about your most recent project.
CM: With the 20th anniversaries of the 1996 & 1998 Kentucky national championships in the last two to three years I felt it would be the perfect time for someone to create some sort of “look back” to what those UK teams were like and what we accomplished. I love documentaries and in a moment of brilliance or madness I decided to do them myself. Wisely though, my first decision was to grab Jason Epperson of Eppic Films and Dick Gabriel of Channel 27 WKYT to help me. I’m quite proud of both "The Team" and "Out Of The Blue."
UK: What is your favorite UK memory?
CM: There really isn’t “a” favorite. There were so many amazing things that I got to experience while a student at UK. But most of my favorite moments would be those moments hanging out with teammates away from the courts, away from the games, and away from practice. Just being with my teammates are among the most valued memories.
UK: How did UK prepare you for your ministry?
CM: Just like today’s players I was given many great opportunities just because I wore that uniform. And one of the most valuable to me was the chance I got to speak in many churches, rallies, conferences while a student, and I continue to get those opportunities today.
UK: How did UK prepare you for your career?
CM: The most valuable lesson I learned during my four years at Kentucky was to not be afraid to fail. To take chances by stepping out of my comfort zone often and trying new things and new projects.
UK: What kind of impact did your professors have on you?
CM: Kentucky basketball is loved all over campus, even by many professors. What I loved most about every professor I had at UK is that they didn’t treat me or my teammates any differently than any other students. It was valuable to keep us grounded and humble and helped us feel like normal students, which is really all we were.
UK: What does it mean to you to be a UK graduate?
CM: It means the completion of the first part of my life and the preparation for the next. The fact that my preparation and degree in psychology came from “my state school” makes it much more valuable to me. I turned down scholarships to walk on the Kentucky basketball team because this was the only school I wanted to attend and play ball for.
UK: What is the best piece of advice you would give current UK students?
CM: Two things come to mind…1) Never be afraid to fail, 2) Always be coachable — you should always be learning and growing by listening to others who might know more than you do.