Rodney Miller: Junior Primer

There’s a lot to like about 6-11 big man Rodney Miller, and with each passing year he becomes more comfortable and confident with his game.

How he got here

For Rodney Miller, the developmental curve always was going to be more gradual than coaches, scouts and perhaps even he would like. As his peers grew into their bodies upon enrolling in high school, Miller kept getting taller.

He opened his prep career at 6-9 and then sprouted another two inches to 6-11, and accordingly he has needed additional time to adjust to his new size. Miller at times has looked awkward on the court, and yet anyone with experience watching prospects realized he warranted consideration for the highest level based on what he might become down the road.

Miller isn’t powerful yet but also doesn’t shy away from competition

A native of the Queens area in New York, I first watched Miller at the EYBL Hampton event last spring. He impressed with his wingspan, mobility and overall activity level, along with his obvious true center size.

Because he wasn’t a big stats guy in 2014 with the N.Y. Lightning, one had to read a great deal into the production he did accomplish. He averaged six points, six rebounds and over one block per game, playing in under 20 minutes per contest. So while he may not have exploded onto the national scene, he certainly didn’t disappear on the court, either.

Miller’s junior season has brought him face to face against elite opposition. He competes for Oak Hill Academy and has enjoyed outstanding coaching and competition, both in games and in practice.

He’ll be a popular attraction when he hits the road in 2015. Miller reportedly has received offers from Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Wake Forest and Tulsa, and undoubtedly he’ll add to that list over the next six months.

To 2015. …

Because he’s so big and features a long wingspan (around seven feet), he could coast this spring and summer yet still rack up offers. That said, however, he always has appeared to take his game seriously and has demonstrated clear improvement over time.

At the Nike Elite 100 last summer, for example, he began displaying a few post moves and scoring touch around the basket. For a big guy, that’s a great start. He can hit short turnarounds and little hooks with either hand at point blank range, and of course his coaches’ preference always will be that he goes for the dunk.

To expand on last year’s promise, we’re hoping to see additional polish along with greater strength and even more confidence as a back-to-the-basket performer.

Defense naturally looms as a key aspect of his future. Big men with less skill than Miller have advanced all the way to the NBA by becoming defensive masters, and clearly he can exert an impact in that regard as well. Miller blocks and alters numerous shots and is a good positional rebounder. From here, he can become stronger and perhaps truly dominant on the defensive glass.

For all these reasons, then, Miller clocks in at No. 54 overall in the Class of 2016. Because he’s only the No. 14 center in a loaded year for the interior, he’ll have numerous opportunities to test himself against those more highly regarded than himself. He’ll enjoy a size advantage in most situations, and with continued progress he could rise even further relative to his peers.

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