McConnell was born Richard Barton McConnell on April 14, 1989 in Mesa, Arizona to Pam and Rick McConnell. Rick McConnell is the head basketball coach at Dobson High School and was a member of the University of Arizona’s 1976 College World Series Championship baseball team. Mickey's older brother Matt plays baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league organization. Their grandfather Dick has the most wins in Arizona high school basketball history. The youngest McConnell received the nickname "Mickey" as a homage to Mickey Mantle.
High school career
He attended Dobson High School and was coached by his father. In his Dobson career, McConnell scored a school record 1,650 points while dishing out a school record 545 assists. As a junior, he averaged 21.0 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game as the Mustangs notched a 19–12 record. McConnell shot 48% from the perimeter and led the East Valley 5A conference in scoring, 3-point percentage, and assists. The Mustangs reached the 2006 Arizona high school playoffs before losing to Corona del Sol High School. Following the season he was selected to the East Valley 5A All-Region team.
In McConnell's senior year, he posted averages of 20.6 points, 7.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game in leading Dobson to a 23–7 record and state playoff appearance. The Arizona Republic named him to the First Team All State, and he was an East Valley 5A All-Region team selection. He originally signed with New Mexico, but opted out of his letter of intent after coach Ritchie McKay was fired. After considering UC Irvine, University of San Diego, and division 1 baseball options McConnell committed to Saint Mary's on April 28, 2007. He chose the Gaels because, in his own words, “I liked the whole environment and the rise of the program. It was just a good fit for me as far as the family culture atmosphere. I thought it was the best place for me to go to be successful.”
In addition to his basketball exploits, McConnell was a star shortstop on the baseball team. He hit .445 with 3 home runs and 25 stolen bases his senior year. He holds the school record for stolen bases with 54 and is second all time in hits (101) and sixth in home runs (4). In his senior year, he was an 5A All-State Selection.
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"St. Mary's Basketball Commitments". Rivals.com. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
"2007 St. Mary's Basketball Commits". Scout.com. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
"Scout.com Team Recruiting Rankings". Scout.com. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
"2007 Team Ranking". Rivals.com. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
McConnell seldom played as a freshman, averaging 1.0 points per game in 6.4 minutes per game of playing time. He scored a season high five points and grabbed three rebounds against Cal State Bakersfield. The Gaels finished the season 25–7, and made the NCAA Tournament as a ten seed.
In his sophomore campaign, McConnell increased his averages to 5.4 points and 21.3 minutes per game. He scored in excess of 10 points on five occasions. He recorded his first collegiate 20 point night on February 14, 2009, in a 75–68 win over Portland. In the February 21 ESPN BracketBusters matchup versus Utah State, McConnell started in place of injured Australian guard Patty Mills and registered a season high 22 points. He shot 6-for-6 from the field and 9-for-11 from the foul line as the Gaels earned a 75–64 victory. McConnell helped the Gaels go 28–7 and advance to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
McConnell averaged 13.8 points and 5.1 assists per game as a junior. Over the course of the regular season, McConnell led the nation in three-point shooting with a 51.5% efficiency (minimum 2.0 attempts per game and 75% of games played). He hit a total of 77 threes, tied for fourth most in a single season in Gael history. He shot 51.4% overall in West Coast Conference play, eighth best in the league. McConnell's average of 13.7 points per game in conference ranked tenth in the West Coast Conference, and his 5.3 assists per game was third. He dished out a total of 174 assists on the year, the fourth best single season mark for a Gael. McConnell led the team with 50 steals and his 1.5 steals per game was fifth in the WCC in that statistic. In a blowout of the Howard Bison on December 30, McConnell registered his first double-double as he posted 11 points and 11 assists.
He led the team to a 28–6 finish, a ten seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen. McConnell was named Most Valuable Player of the 2010 West Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament as he matched his season high with 26 points to help Saint Mary's defeat Gonzaga in the championship game. In the NCAA Tournament, he connected on 5-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc and scored 23 points in an 80–71 first round victory over the Richmond Spiders. McConnell had 15 points in the 75–68 Round of 32 win over Villanova and banked in the go-ahead three point shot with 1:55 to play. He was named to the All-West Coast Conference Team at the conclusion of the season. He was recognized as an All-Ninth District second-team selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Prior to his senior year, McConnell was named to the preseason All-West Coast Conference Team. He was on the preseason watchlist for the Bob Cousy Award honoring the top point guard in college basketball. Jeff Goodman ranked him the #13 shooter in college basketball. McConnell was named to the South Padre Island Invitational All-Tournament Team after leading Saint Mary's to the championship game against BYU. In back-to-back victories against Mississippi State and Hartford, he posted a double-double (28 points and 13 assists) and then 21 points and seven assists, respectively. This earned him West Coast Conference Player of the Week and TheHoopsReport.com National Player of the Week honors for the week of December 28 – January 3. For the second straight week McConnell was recognized as West Coast Conference Player of the Week after leading the team to wins against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. On January 27, McConnell contributed 27 points and hit the game-winning shot with 1.2 seconds remaining to defeat the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The victory was the first for head coach Randy Bennett at the Bulldogs' home, the McCarthey Athletic Center, and the first by a Gaels team since 1995. McConnell scored a career-high 32 points in a loss to Portland on January 29. These performances earned him his third West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors. After victories over Santa Clara and San Francisco, McConnell was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week for the fourth time on February 14. McConnell was on midseason watchlist for Naismith College Player of the Year.
McConnell finished his career with 1,234 points, 12th most in Saint Mary's history. He is also second in assists and third in three pointers made. Head coach Randy Bennett said that, of all the players he coached, McConnell improved the most.
The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted McConnell on the third day in the 31st round with the 944th overall pick in the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft. The pick completely surprised McConnell, who had not played baseball since high school. "In the summers I would hit a little bit and do minor baseball stuff with my brother but nothing serious or organized," he said. A Dodgers scout said that the pick was not a publicity stunt, and he believed that McConnell had a career in baseball. McConnell affirmed that he was committed to basketball, in the NBA or overseas, but would not rule out becoming a professional baseball player in the future.