Ohio Big Man Close to a Decision

Academics are very important to center Jason Miller of Hamilton (Ohio) High School. So is finding the right college where he can play basketball and further his education. Central Michigan University is currently battling two Ivy League schools for Miller, who could be close to making a decision.

Center Jason Miller of Hamilton (Ohio) High School has a grade point average that could very well be the envy of many valedictorians.

Miller, you see, has a 4.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Yes, he is a very smart young man, but please don't get the impression this 6-foot-9, 240-pound post player spends all his time in the library. Miller excels on the hardcourt too.

He has a handful of Division I college scholarship offers, but says he is focusing primarily on three schools, Central Michigan, Columbia and Pennsylvania. He has spent the past three weekends taking official visits to his three finalists, including CMU Sept. 17-19.

"It's going to be a hard decision," Miller said. "Academics will be the biggest factor."

On the surface, it would seem CMU has an uphill battle against the two Ivy League schools concerning academics, but Miller said he met with an official from CMU's Honors College and came away impressed.

"I think with the honors college it would be challenging and should suffice," said Miller, who plans to study business or political science in college. "I had a great feeling when I was up there (CMU), it's like a big family. The players trust each other."

According to Miller, the Chippewas began recruiting him last spring at the beginning of his AAU season and offered him a scholarship in July. His AAU coach is Mike Price, the highly regarded high school coach at Cincinnati Oak Hills and a rival of Hamilton in the Greater Miami Conference.

"Jason is a big, strong kid who is a great rebounder," Price said. "He had a great summer (playing AAU ball). Jason is left-handed, which is a great advantage for post players."

Last winter, Miller shot 57 percent from the field in leading Hamilton to a 25-2 overall record, but it was in the Ohio state tournament when he began to dominate. Miller led the Big Blue to the Division I (big school) state championship, defeating Canton McKinley and Toledo St. John's in the finals.

Miller averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds per game in the tournament, garnering three double-doubles in three of the Big Blue's last four games. For his efforts, Miller was named to the all-tournament team.

"Winning the state tournament was a big thrill," Miller said.

"It was no surprise to us (Oak Hills) that Hamilton went all the way," Price said, "They're a balanced team."

Miller said one thing that appeals to him about playing for CMU is the possibility of being teammates with his friend Mike Kramer, who plays for Price at Oak Hills.

Although Kramer and Miller are rivals on the high school hardcourt, they played AAU ball together. Kramer verbally committed to the Chippewas last month and said he would like nothing better than to see Miller join him in Mt. Pleasant.

"I told Jason he doesn't need to be playing at any Ivy League school when he can play in the MAC with me at CMU," Kramer said.

"I definitely will take into consideration playing at CMU for my family and friends to be able to watch me," Miller said. "It would be nice to play alongside Mike. At CMU, I also know that I'm going to be playing against some bigger schools."

A self-proclaimed fierce competitor, Miller said regardless of where he decides to play his college basketball, he wants to win. His high school coach has told him his best playing days are ahead of him.

"I'm a team player," Miller said. "I love to play defense, block shots and go after loose balls."

Miller's doctor has told him he could be 6-11 before he's done growing. Such would be a good specimen for any college coach to work with, but at CMU, developing big men is head coach Jay Smith's specialty.

"I like Coach Smith," Miller said. "He made it very clear to me that working with big men is his specialty. He also told me I could see some immediate playing time at CMU."

Miller said he plans to make a decision on where he will play his college basketball before his high school season begins in about three weeks, although there's a strong possibility that could change.

"The possibility exists that I will move that timeline up for making a decision," Miller said.

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