Five reasons the future is bright, Part IV

In the fourth of a five-part series previewing the future of the Arizona Basketball program, Inna Lazarev discusses the reason for the resurgence in UA basketball: Sean Miller.

Reason #5: They've Got Game

Reason #4: Recruits Who Help Recruit

Reason #3: Restoring the Family Tradition

Reason #2: Sean Miller

In his short time in Tucson, Sean Miller has surpassed any reasonable expectations set out for him. Considering that when he arrived at Arizona, Miller's resume showcased 120 wins, three Atlantic-10 titles, a Sweet 16, and an Elite Eight, it should come as no surprise that he's done so well.

In less than two years at McKale Center, Miller has added to his impressive resume, bringing Arizona a Pac-10 title, leading UA back to the elite level of contending - and succeeding - in the NCAA tournament, and earning himself conference Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his career.

Based on his consistent success, there is no question as to why Miller has been able to gain respect both locally and nationally.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is a testament, based on what he knew about the UA coach before he took the job in Tucson.

"I was told that he had strong ethics and that he was a very good basketball coach as well as someone I would enjoy working with," Byrne recalled.

Since then, Byrne has found that Miller is a guy who does things the right way. The Arizona athletic director describes the Arizona head coach as the kind of coach who he would want his own son or daughter to play for.

"Sean Miller has a passion for the game of college basketball," Byrne states. "He works with his players to make them the best they can be both on and off the court."

The administration, the fans, the recruits; they have all bought in. Miller has the whole program, the whole community, and arguably the whole is nation believing in him.

La Verne Lutheran head coach Eric Cooper, Sr., whose own son will play for Miller in 2013, is one of his believers.

"I know coach Miller looks for winners. They're looking for guys who win championships, and everything that you do on the court has to equate to the team winning," says the coach of Arizona commits Eric Cooper and Grant Jerrett.

Coach Cooper's son and future Wildcat, Eric Cooper, Jr. understands the expectation.

"Sean Miller is a coach who knows what he wants," Cooper, Jr. said. "He has a great style of play, he knows how to recruit, and I'm just excited to play for him."

2011 Arizona signee Nick Johnson is another future Wildcat itching to get acquainted with coach Miller's system.

Johnson is not shy in revealing who drew the highly recruited guard to Tucson.

"Coach Miller and the whole staff just made me feel like I could tell them anything," shares an enthusiastic Nick Johnson.

"All of them, you can go right down the line; they just know how to talk to you. They're all great coaches and they made me feel at home. They have a great group of guys there; I just can't wait to be part of it."

The UA signee has a smile on his face just talking about his future head coach. "You can just talk to the guy; he's a people's person," Johnson adds. "He knows how to talk to people, and I really think he's family. I felt at home."

Nick's mother, Michelle Johnson, could not agree more.

"This summer coach Miller told me before AAU started, he said, ‘I will be the only NCAA Division-I head coach that will be at every single one of Nick's games in June and July,' and he was," says Michelle Johnson.

"Everything that he's promised, he's done."

"At the end of the day, Nick probably had 50 offers that were high Division-I, when you stack them all up, it came down to his relationship with coach Miller; how much he trusts him and how comfortable he feels talking to him. The more time I spend with the coaching staff and the more communication I have, I feel the same way."

Miller's recruiting skills, development abilities, and extraordinary passion is undeniable.

In only a short 23 months, the Arizona head coach has managed to draw in a Top 10 recruiting class, led an average squad of players to compete at the highest level of college basketball, and essentially restored and reestablished Arizona Basketball.

Miller has never had a losing record in conference or overall play, and it doesn't look like that's about to change anytime soon.

Yet the most impressive quality about Sean Miller may be the fact that every time you ask someone new what they believe his most impressive quality is, you're given a different answer.

Take his three assistants, for example.

"Development," Archie Miller says without hesitation, "Look at some of our improvement from freshmen to sophomores; most of those guys have all bought in and they're getting better. I think that's going to be the trajectory of all our guys. He can really make them better, and at the same time he can really keep them in line.

"One of the things he does a great job of is recruiting. His pitches aren't a bunch of lies or anything he can't promise; what he talks about is what he can deliver."

"He's a player's coach," states Book Richardson. "He is a former player himself and an excellent point guard in his own right. He understands what it takes, and he understands that they're student-athletes first. He understands the balance of student-athlete."

"I would say his passion," says a confident James Whitford. "This guy lives and breathes basketball and he's totally committed to the program, the players on our team, and their development. It inspires me how much he's driven not only for our team to do well, but for him to improve every year.

"He's working really hard to be a better coach every day, every week, every year, and as someone who is under him, honestly it really motivates me to get better too."

Three different coaches, three different answers, but one common belief:

Sean Miller is the perfect coach to be leading Arizona Basketball.

There are no head coach approval ratings in college basketball. But if there were, it would be hard to believe that Miller's would be anything less than 100%.

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