Friday, April 4, 2008

Marc Miller- Spectacular Student, Amazing Athlete . . . In That Order

Marc Miller of North Salem High School (NY) is a 6'6 senior center who I recently caught up with to discuss recruiting, AAU basketball, his high school season, and more. Marc's squad had an outstanding season, and he had a terrific year in his own right, being named to numerous all-star teams. Miller is not only a quality basketball player, but a top-notch performer in the classroom. He took some time out of his day yesterday to fill me in on his life both on and off the hardwood.

NB: What was your high school team's record this season?
MM: 23-2

NB: What schools did the team lose to?
MM: Horace Greeley High School [from New York] and Malverne High School [from New York].

NB: Talk about the team's accomplishments this year. What did the squad accomplish?
MM: This was undoubtedly the best basketball season in North Salem basketball history. We won two tournaments during the year, including our own. We won the league championship and clinched the number one seed in the Section 1 Class B Tournament. We won the championship over defending champion Briarcliff in overtime for the first time since 1991. We set school records for winning streak and wins in a season, both at 23 games. We beat perennial powerhouse Red Hook in the Regional Semi-finals.

NB: What [did you say] . . . that win streak [was]?
MM: 23 games. Our wins were sandwiched by losses on the first and last games of the season.

NB: The loss to end the season, what tournament or event did that come in?
MM: The loss came in the New York State Southeast Region Championship. A win there would have sent us to the State Final Four in Glens Falls, [New York].

NB: What did you accomplish on a personal level this year? What about in your career as a whole?
MM: This season, I was named All-League and All-Conference, and, although it has not been released yet, I have a good feeling that I will be named All-State as well. I scored the 1,000th point of my career during a game in January. I finished my career with 1,307 points and over 1,000 rebounds. I was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Carmel High School and Somers High School Tournaments. I was named Most Valuable Player of the North Salem High School Tournament. I was named Con-Edison Scholar Athlete . . . of the Week. I was named to the Westchester County Basketball Coaches Association Court of Excellence, an award for the ten best scholar-athletes who plays basketball, with an emphasis on [the] scholar [part]. I was named Second Team Preseason All-Class B by the Journal News. I was named Class B Player of the Year by the Journal News, [which was] a nice improvement from the preseason. In terms of my career, I will graduate third on the North Salem All-Time Scoring List. I will also graduate as my school's All-Time Leading Rebounder. . . . I was also named to the Westchester County Basketball Coaches Association Exceptional Seniors Game.

NB: What was the best moment of your high school career?
MM: The best moment of my career was winning the Section 1 Class B Championship in overtime in front of a packed house at the Westchester County Center. My team, despite being the #1 seed, entered the game as underdogs to the reigning Section Champions, Briarcliff, which made the win more enjoyable.

What schools recruited you to play ball in college?
MM: Bates, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Clark, Colby, Emerson, Endicott, Middlebury, Tufts, Wesleyan, Wheaton, Clarkson, Union, SUNY Geneseo, Hobart, SUNY Plattsburgh, Rochester, Skidmore, DeSales, Drew, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore, Emory, Oberlin, Pomona, and Occidental.

NB: Where will you be headed?
MM: If I had to put money on it, I would [have to say that I'll] be at Emory. It is between Emory and Swarthmore and I am waiting to hear from Harvard, [where] I was waitlisted.
NB: Why those three? What makes them stand out to you?
MM: I have been dreaming of going to Harvard since I was about [five years old]. Although it has a Division I program, I may have the opportuntiy to walk-on. I like Emory because of its size and location, along with its outstanding academic reputation. Emory plays in the University Athletic Association, which is the most competitive conference in Division III. Swarthmore offers me a chance to play immediately at one of the best small liberal arts colleges in the country. It is also relatively close to home.

NB: Have you had any contact with Harvard about walking-on, or with [Head Coach] Tommy Amaker or one of the assistants?
MM: I had been in contact with an assistant, Will Wade, but that was over the summer, when I was considered a legitimate recruit. I figure that I need to focus on getting in first, then I'll establish communication with the basketball coaches.

NB: What do you mean by "when I was considered a legitimate recruit?"
MM: I had been on Harvard's recruiting list. That changed after they saw me play at Eastern Invitational.

NB: Why is that?
MM: The coach who saw me did not think that I would be a good fit for the program. . . . Coach Amaker also attracted better recruits.

NB: What was your reaction to hearing that?
MM: It was very disappointing, but it made me [become] more realistic. I had always thought that I had a chance to play in the Ivy League because it was not as competitive as other conferences. It was at that point that I realized that Ivy League or not, it is still Division I and the talent in Division I is in rare air.

Has the [recruiting] scandal [involving Tommy Amaker] at Harvard affected your perception of the school or changed your desire to walk-on there instead of playing DII or DIII?
MM: No, it has not affected my ideas of the school because that does not affect the academic quality of Harvard. It has not even affected my view on the basketball program because I would not be taken in as a recruit. It may affect the team, but how badly? If the NCAA bans Harvard from the tournament, then so be it; Harvard has not made the tournament since the 40s. They can't take away scholarships, so I do not see any potential decision changers for me. I try not to let my college decision be swayed by athletic factors.

NB: You previously told me that you gave up playing AAU ball a while back. Explain that decision.
MM: I am not a fan of the AAU style of play. It is very scrappy and out of control. There is no coaching, strategy, or teamwork. These are generalizations and there are many good coaches coaching AAU, but I feel that they are in such a rare quantity that I do not wish to become a part of it.

NB: Do you think that decision hurt you recruitment-wise?
MM: It definitely did. I would have had the ability to be seen on a weekly basis, but instead I have a healthy conscious, which I value more. Although it hurt my recruiting value, I am still in a place that I am happy with and the exposure that I received in making that happen occurred at a few showcase camps. Camps, unlike AAU, involve top-level coaching and forced teamwork, which makes that style best [suited] for me when playing in front of coaches.

NB: You were very tall in your early teenage years. When did you hit the six-foot mark?
MM: Age 13

NB: Being so tall at such a young age, how did that affect you, both positively and negatively?
MM: It was the main reason that I was introduced to basketball. Other than that, it just drew comments and looks.

NB: Do you feel it helped you progress as a player, or stunt your development basketball-wise? Or did it not have an impact on how you are now [as a basketball player]?
MM: It hurt me in that I began working on ballhandling and shooting later than most others. It helped me earn spots on teams of higher levels, [such as making] my varsity team as a freshman. Playing with and against the high-caliber players that were involved with those better teams helped to progress my skills faster.

Academics seems very important to you. What do you want to do down the road as a career? As well, do you know what you will be majoring in?
MM: I want to major in economics with the goal of being involved in sports business, [and] possibly [be] an agent.

Miller is a nice guy with good aspirations, both on and off the basketball court. Marc's perspective on basketball, academics, and life is quite refreshing, and it's nice to see that he is making his decision primarily based off academics, knowing that this is what will take him further in life. He has talent, a positive outlook, a healthy conscience. Marc Miller is destined for success, whether it be with a basketball, a calculator, or in another field all together.

No comments: