Adam Miller is among the many hundreds of college basketball players who have been on the move since the close of the 2020-21 season, but he is one of a select dozen whose journey will take him to Latvia.
There, 4,666 miles from his old home in Champaign, Illinois, and 5,321 miles from his new home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Miller will join eleven other young American basketball players who seek to continue USA Basketball’s reign as champions of the FIBA U19. World cup.
The United States has won four of the last six tournaments in this age group. High school students (and future All-Americans) Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs were among the key contributors to the most recent winners, but college freshmen Reggie Perry (Mississippi State) and Trevion Williams (Purdue) provided the experience and power to help stabilize the team. .
“I think the tests went well. I had a lot of Fun. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible, “Miller told Sporting News. “I’ve been working on my game non-stop, so I went out and did what I usually do: I threw open shots, made some good passes, played defense and communicated offensively, defensively and off the court, I just tried to be a leader as much as you can. “
Miller, a 6-3 wing who played in high school in Chicago, is the latest to offer proof that the transfer portal is not a gateway to a lost dimension in the sport. Cameron Johnson became the 11th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after moving from Pitt to North Carolina, and Brandon Clarke was 21st in that draft following his move from San Jose State to Gonzaga.
Miller hopes to be another such example, and being part of the U-19 team is a solid step in that direction. NBA stars like Gordon Hayward, Klay Thompson, Jason Tatum and Marcus Smart won championships with the United States in this tournament. It does not offer any guarantees except another opportunity to be evaluated against significant competition.
To become a professional, Miller will have to improve on a freshman year in which he was a huge contributor to a team that won a Big Ten Tournament title and earned a No. 1 spot in the NCAA Tournament, but he will have to be more productive. 8.3 points per game and more accurate than 39 percent of shooters from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.
When Miller’s decision to leave was made public, Illini’s coach Brad Underwood said the young point guard had been “a big part of our success” in 2020-21 and praised his contributions on both ends of the floor. Miller told SN that he left Illinois because “the movement between assistant coaches” created a situation where he “wanted to see what was out there.”
On April 21, it was reported that Miller had entered the transfer portal and elected LSU on May 1. There was speculation that Illini’s assistant Orlando Antigua could return to the Kentucky staff on March 11, although he and fellow Illini assistant Ronald “Chin“ Coleman were not officially signed by the Wildcats until May 11.
“I didn’t feel like it was a bad situation. I felt it was good, ”Miller said. “But I just wanted to see what would be best for me, and I felt like the best option for me would be LSU.”
After finishing runner-up in the SEC Tournament and losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, LSU lost top scorers Cameron Thomas, Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford in the NBA Draft, adding 55 points and 41 shots per play.
There would have been a similar opportunity in Illinois with the departure of All-American Ayo Dosunmu, and he would have known the system and some teammates, but Miller wanted a fresh start.
“What caught my eye was coach Will Wade, what I’ve seen him do with his players, I feel like I can come in and take on that role,” Miller said. “He has always had talented players and I feel like they have had good relationships with him. I asked the players that he had coached, and they told me if he’s recruiting you, you’re the guy, you’re running the show, you’re going to come in and do great things. I feel like that’s my job. “
He probably won’t have as much offensive responsibility with the U-19 squad. In the last four teams in the championship, the top scorer was Jalen Brunson with 14 points per game in 2015. The 2009 title team, with Thompson and Hayward, had no one averaging 11 points.
The United States will play its first group match on Saturday against Turkey. Mali and Australia are the other teams in the group. The medal round begins on July 7, with the final scheduled for July 11. Miller is among six members of the US roster who have played a season in Division I, making it a much older team than the one that won in 2019. There are six more who will be freshmen. year this fall, including top five prospects Chet Holmgren (headed for Gonzaga) and Patrick Baldwin (Milwaukee).
Miller told SN that “ongoing” work on his game has involved extending his shooting range, trying to improve execution in pick-and-roll situations. “Just being a hooper and developing my game completely,” he said.
That has involved watching a lot of game movies, not just from his time in Illinois, but from other players he admires, most notably Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Steph Curry, and Devin Booker. Interestingly, three of the players he picked are primarily point guards, and Curry has always been in command of the position.
“I feel like they are the best at what they do, no matter the size,” Miller said. “It’s just finding different things to do, different readings. You just take things here and there, you learn by seeing things and I try to learn as much as I can. “
Miller spent a month in Baton Rouge before leaving for the U19 tryouts in Fort Worth.
“It was the first time I went down to the south. I mean, I’ve been to Texas before, but I’ve never been to Louisiana. It’s different, ”Miller said. “I enjoy being able to wear shorts all the time.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.