The Illinois basketball program received a boost when Brandon Miller was hired by head coach John Groce as Special Assistant to the Head Coach. He replaced Ramone Williams, who's short tenure at the UI ended when Virginia Tech hired him as an assistant coach. Miller brings impressive credentials to the job.
An Indiana native who enjoyed a tremendous career as a point guard at Butler and later coached there, Miller also worked six years at Ohio State, advancing to top assistant and enjoying great success there. He was considered a prime candidate to become a head coach before deciding to leave the coaching profession. He explains.
"The world of college basketball coaching is different. You live a different lifestyle. What you do on a day-to-day basis, unless you've lived it, it's hard to explain. After those nine years, there was a point in time, for myself and for my family, for me to step away.
"I look at that decision, and I say at that point in time, it was the right decision for myself. And it was the right decision for my family."
Good friend John Groce was aware Miller might want to return to coaching in some capacity. When Williams left, he turned to Miller.
"When I was deciding to come back in, Coach Groce called me and told me about the opportunity. I was extremely excited about Illinois and the opportunity to work with Coach Groce and the staff. I thought it was a terrific opportunity.
"When that decision came, I knew that if I was to get back into college basketball, it wasn't going to be just anywhere working with just anybody. It would have to be an ideal situation, and I thought this was ideal."
While Miller won't share the precise reasons that forced him from the game temporarily, he returns with a different perspective that might enhance the lives of himself and his family.
"I love college basketball; I love the game. It was the first year I had ever not been a part of a team. Knowing and reflecting in that year of what I know, getting back into it I have a different look on a day-to-day basis. I have a different perspective.
"And also realizing that coaching basketball is not 9-to-5. You still have a unique way of living, but at the same time I've learned from my experiences and where I've been."
Does that mean he wants to return to coaching?
"You know what, I think I am back into it. I never say never, but at same time the way I look at it is, I'm gonna do the best job I can possibly do sitting where I'm sitting right now. In the short amount of time that I've been here, I love it. Just the day-to-day aspect of what I do and who I work with, I really enjoy."
Miller isn't coaching on the floor or recruiting off campus, but he has found aspects of the job to his liking.
"You know what, I can watch. I can be there, and I can see what's going on. For me, where I'm at right now, I'm happy. Are there times when I would like to get in, grab a player and (coach him)? Those thoughts are going through my mind, but at the same time I feel like I'm good with what's going on."
Many miss coaching once they are away from it. They get an itch to teach young people the sport they love. But Miller realizes he could be a hot commodity if he wished to return at some point. That allows him to remain patient about his future.
"I'm not desperate at all. In fact, the importance for myself are the people and the place, and not necessarily some of the other things."
In part two of a five-part interview, Miller talks about his job, what he does and what he cannot do.