Tory Miller is a 6'-7" power forward at Lee Summit North High School in Kansas City. He showed off his abilities to college coaches this summer with the KC Pump 'N Run AAU program. His breakout was in Las Vegas at the most important tournament of the year for his team. Colleges including Illinois are hot on his trail.
"The AAU season went really good," Miller confirms. We went out to Vegas and played 16's. We beat the Eric Gordon All-Stars and won the championship. That was the highlight of the summer."
College coaches were watching and agreed.
"I think I played really well. Coach (Jay) Price was watching in the front row. I got a lot of calls after that."
Price is his lead recruiter. They have been in regular communication with each other.
"I spoke with him about a month ago. I get letters from them. We stay in contact through Facebook and on the phone. He talks about how he is going to come out to see me and that they are interested in me. They started recruiting me after my state tournament games. That is where they heard about me."
The coach's knowledge of Miller's hometown has impressed him even though they have one minor difference of opinion.
"He is not from Kansas City, but he knows a lot about it. That is always a good thing. Kansas City has the big barbecue debate. He is an Arthur Bryant fan and I am a Gates guy. It's all good though. We get to talk about Kansas City. That is something I look forward to. I like when a coach knows about my city."
What stands out about the Illini program?
"I like how they don't keep their big men just in the post. They had a seven footer last year that stepped out and hit threes. Their big men are versatile and can do what the guards do. Plus, they get to play top level competition with Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other big-time schools."
The staff would like to visit with Miller and his family further.
"They are trying to get me on campus. I'm not really sure about taking unofficial visits yet, until I get some free time because school is really important right now. I will probably get the unofficial visits going during break."
Miller's academics are vital to him, and he has several areas he is interested in pursuing in college.
"I have a few options between Sports Medicine, Technological Drafting and Engineering. Sports medicine is probably leading it right now."
Illinois is not the only high major school on Miller's list.
"Colorado State is my only offer right now. Schools interested are Mizzou, Illinois, Butler, Colorado, Kansas, Clemson, Arkansas, Florida State, Alabama, and Wichita State."
Miller says there are a few specific things he will look for in a school.
"I am looking for a family and team based environment with a good education. I would like to go somewhere that my parents can see me play and a place which has a good basketball program overall."
He has a good support system that will be there with him throughout the process.
"My family and uncle, who played at Arkansas on the 1994 championship team, will have a big role in helping me decide."
The junior broke down his game.
"I am a four that can play the five. Also, I can come out and play a little bit of the three. For the bigger guys, I will use my speed and agility. For smaller guys I will use my power. When guys try to guard me when at the three, I will blow by them."
Last season, Lee Summit North placed third in state.
"I feel like I did well. I did my part, as I was playing behind two seniors. When I got in, my coach realized I shouldn't be on the bench. I started getting more playing time during the state tournament."
He sees his role increasing this year.
"I guess I will be running the team this year. The seniors left it for me. Hopefully we can get a state championship."
Miller's play last year and in the spring earned him an invitation to the prestigious Nike Elite 100 in St. Louis.
"It was a really good experience as I got to play against some of the top players in 2013 and 2014. I played against some top level competition out there, and it really helped my game. I think I held my own out there. My ranking jumped up a lot after that."
Miller is a player to keep an eye on this season. The Illini are making a serious run at him.