Myles Miller giving GVSU basketball a steady option at point guard

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
#12 Myles Miller

GVL/Kevin Sielaff #12 Myles Miller

Beau Troutman

Myles Miller drives an expensive car.

It isn’t a Lexus, a Porsche or even a Corvette. The car Miller drives runs on elbow grease, not gasoline. How well it operates is up to him, and so far, it’s been running smoothly.

The car he drives is the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team.

“The point guard position, to a certain extent is like driving a car,” said GVSU coach Ric Wesley. “If you got a crazy man driving, the people in the backseat are hanging on for dear life. I own the car, I’m giving (Miller) the keys to the car. I’d like to have somebody keep it between the lines, keep it out of the ditch, and he does that.

“Sometimes he’s not quite able to win the car race, but at the same time, the car comes back without a lot of dents in it. That’s his responsibility—keep us moving down the road at a comfortable, safe pace.”

Miller, the junior GVSU point guard, is in his first year as a full-time starter this season. He’s averaging seven points-per-game, has a team-high 63 assists in about 27 minutes-a-game. He is coming off of one of his best games yet, a 93-78 win over Northwood Jan. 12. He had 19 points on 8-of-8 shooting with seven assists.

It’s a big step up for Miller, who played a little over 11 minutes a game in his first two seasons as a Laker. He’s started in all 16 of GVSU’s games this season—he made 12 starts in his first two years combined—and he says his experiences have prepared him to be a full-time starting point guard at the Division II level.

Running point, or “driving the car” carries with it a lot of responsibility and attention to detail.

“I’ve been in that position all my life,” Miller said. “My dad has always told me, ‘you’re not going to be 6’5”, you’re not going to be 6’10”, so might as well learn (how to play point) now.’ I dealt with that all throughout high school—handling the ball, having control of the team, having awareness on the court.

“I’m still learning, but I’ve always been doing it, so it’s not too much to ask.”

Miller was a standout at Ottawa Hills High School growing up, earning an All-State Honorable Mention and was named a McDonald’s All-America nominee.

Near the end of his high school recruitment, Miller narrowed his college choices down to GVSU and the University of Michigan. The difference between the two was Miller had a guarantee to play basketball as a Laker, while Michigan wanted him to take an academic scholarship and be a preferred walk-on with the basketball team, rather than be guaranteed a spot.

Academics are very important to Miller—he was named to the GLIAC All-Academic Team last season—and the prospect of going to a national brand like Michigan sounded enticing.

“The ball isn’t going to bounce forever,” Miller said. “My father always told me that very saying, ‘what are you going to do when it stops bouncing for you?’ Myself, I’ve always wanted to be successful in life, whether it’s in basketball or not.”

The reason Miller might not have played at Michigan was in part due to his height. He’s 5’10”, which isn’t quite up to the Division I average, unless your name is Allen Iverson or Nate Robinson. Miller has never let that get in the way, though, and can even dunk—in fact, he dunked during his visit at GVSU, catching some off guard.

“A lot of guys think I can’t get up there and dunk,” Miller said. “I tell them I can dunk and they don’t believe me, I always have to prove myself.”

Miller fondly recalls the first time he ever dunked in a game—senior night during his senior year of high school.

“I got a steal toward half court, looked back, nobody was trailing me and I just went for it,” he said. “It was my first-ever in-game dunk. It was like a delayed moment because (the crowd) didn’t think I was going to dunk it. They were like, ‘did he just dunk?’”

His father, Dwight Miller, who played basketball at Ferris State from 1986-1989, told Miller that the benefits of being a student-athlete last a lifetime.

“I said, ‘the things you’re going to learn when you’re a student-athlete are going to carry you much further in life than a student,’ a lot of times,” Dwight Miller said.

Miller chose GVSU in the end, and it has worked out well. In addition to his success on the court, Miller is a finance major and has an internship with Northwest Mutual lined up for this summer.

Wesley says in all of his years of coaching, he’s never quite had a player up to the caliber of Miller in the classroom.

He’s happy to have him as the driver of his team.

“We didn’t focus on him to the degree that we should have at the time (during his recruitment),” Wesley said. “I think in my 30-odd years of coaching, I think he’s the first and only valedictorian I’ve ever had on my team. That doesn’t happen very often.”