Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Miller Returns from Sea and Hits the Courts

As I watch major college basketball teams and players take off for their annual Fall trips to places like Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands, I am reminded of the silliness of the NCAA's insistence on overusing the term "student athlete."  Sure there are players who buck the trend and act as true students who are also athletes.  But most major college basketball players represent their schools first and foremost as an athlete.  And many help their schools earn a good deal of money along the way.

Matt Miller, an Augusta native, a former high school basketball player of mine, and an outstanding student and person, is not your common "student athlete."  He has chosen to take a particularly challenging academic path through college, one that rarely affords him the chance to visit home and one that is certainly preparing him for a productive career after college.  The United States Merchant Marines Academy is training him to be an "engineer at sea," including spending one full year of his four years of study on a ship during voyages around the globe.  After a grueling first year of college, his "plebe" year in which he serves the upperclassmen, he set sail for four months on a trip that began in New York and proceeded through the ports of Charleston and Savannah before visiting Spain and Gibraltar (UK) and crossing the Mediterranean Sea.  Other stops included ports in Dubai, India, and Pakistan.

Besides giving Matt a practical education in geography and hands on training in what may eventually become his career, the trip gave him a four month break from basketball.  After this break, Matt recently returned to the hardwood, and he is averaged 11.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in his team's first two games of the 2014-15 season.  His scoring has been very efficient.  He has made 8 of 17 field goals, including 3 of 6 three pointers.  And he has made all four of his foul shots.

It's great to see Matt walking his own path.  He is likely to be named to the Landmark Conference All Academic Team this season.  And if he keeps scoring this efficiently, he may garner more honors as well.  But Matt has never done things for the approval of others.  So my biggest wish for my former player is that he has loads of fun playing the game in between all of his hard work and practical training.  The basketball community needs more examples like his.

Here are some of the highlights of Matt during his first two games this season:

***Here are more posts from the past about Matt Miller***

Jan 7, 2014

Nov 21, 2013

Sept 16, 2013

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