The Michael Miller Effect

The Michael Miller Effect

The Michael Miller Effect
March 07
14:53 2019

When North Texas senior guard Michael Miller joined the team in 2017, he became an effective catalyst for implementing the desired winning culture head coach Grant McCasland wanted to instill within the team. Miller’s mentality consisted of wanting to help the team win no matter what his role consisted of.

He’s a very rare teammate to have that type of selflessness and care for his teammates,” McCasland said. “That’s how we’ve been able to win because you got a guy like that, who’s a senior and is genuinely trying to help those around him before trying to make himself look good.”

Mean Green senior forward Michael Miller embraces redshirt junior DJ Draper after Draper makes a mistake during the game against Marshall at the Super Pit on March 3, 2019. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

Miller was born in Michigan City, Indiana, but started his collegiate basketball career with two seasons with Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Illinois. During his second season, he averaged 14.3 points and was listed as an honorable mention on the 2016-17 NJCAA All-American team. In 2017, Miller was listed No. 33 in the top 100 junior college players in the nation per JUCOrecruiting.com. The Michigan City product was recruited by McCasland, known for his athleticism and scoring ability.

Miller’s first season with North Texas in the 2017 season was McCasland’s first year as well. In October 2017, the men’s basketball team went on a retreat helmed by McCasland and his staff. They participated in events that weren’t basketball related but still enhanced team chemistry. They ran in the Tough Mudder Race in Dallas and traveled to Houston to help communities affected by hurricane Harvey.

“We took our team and just tried to do things that weren’t around basketball, but were about life,” McCasland said. “We wanted to kind of figure out the bigger picture of what’s really important and spend time together as a team to get to know each other.”

According to McCasland, there was a point where the team gathered at the campfire, discussing what each other’s aspirations were, along with what they wanted to get out of the upcoming season. McCasland said Miller told the team that he didn’t care if he was the last player on the team or a starter. He went on to say that he wanted to do whatever he could to help the team win.

“No one else said that,” McCasland said. “Everyone else says they want to win, but nobody says they’re okay being the 15th – that just shows you the heart behind [Miller] as a player and as a person.”

The Shawnee product would play in 30 games his first year while serving in a role that involved him coming off the bench. Miller struggled with injuries that hampered him from attaining many minutes and prevented him from shooting and scoring  the way he did in JUCO.

As a left-handed shooter, Miller scored 1.9 points per game at that time and shot 13 percent from beyond the arc. Before the first-round matchup in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament against South Dakota, Miller was told by McCasland to start shooting with his right hand and there was an immediate difference. The same day, Miller was placed in the starting lineup and scored a career high 19 points. He gained 30 minutes of playing time in his first career start and shot 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc as a first-time right-handed shooter. Miller started the rest of the games in the CBI Tournament for North Texas and averaged 10.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game.

I was hard on him his first year, I was on him about a lot of things,McCasland said. “I was on him defensively, his effort and his ability to compete. He’s risen to the occasion and been a guy that’s the glue to our team.”

This season Miller has averaged 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Nine games into this season, the senior guard replaced redshirt sophomore Jahmiah Simmons at the fourspot for the remainder of this season. Miller’s fourth game as a starter this season ended with him scoring a career-high 35 points on 11-for-13 shooting and a career-high in made threes (7) and field goals (11) in a game against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Dec. 20. Miller’s impact on and off the court along with his work ethic is not something that goes unnoticed. 

“I really don’t know if you can replace [Miller] just because he’s probably the best teammate I’ve ever had,” junior guard DJ Draper said. “He’s an unbelievable person who works hard and is a great teammate.”

When Miller was asked about what legacy he wanted to leave North Texas for the future players to build off of, he said he wanted to win a conference championship and to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m not a guy of individual accolades, they’re great and all but all I’ve cared about is winning,” Miller said. “If I score 20-30 points or score two points and grab a couple rebounds, as long as I’m making a positive impact, I’ll be satisfied. At the end of the day, that’s all you’re going to be remembered for.”

Featured Image: Mean Green senior forward Michael Miller prepares to shoot free-throws at the senior night game against Marshall at the Super Pit on March 3, 2019. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

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Matthew Suarez

Matthew Suarez

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1 Comment

  1. Dixie Normous
    Dixie Normous March 07, 19:01

    Who’s Matthew?

    Reply to this comment

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