Miller, now 42, began as a graduate assistant in 1992 for Wisconsin. He spent just one year in Madison before accepting an assistant coaching position at Miami (Ohio) under Herb Sendek. Miller stayed with Miami for two seasons, then went back to his alma mater for a season before rejoining Sendek when he took the head coaching job at NC State.
It was his five years under Sendek that endeared him to many around the NC State program. In his time in Raleigh he earned a reputation as a smart, hard-working coach who would move quickly up the coaching ranks.
Those predictions proved accurate when Thad Matta, who had worked with Miller when they were both assistant coaches under Sendek, hired Miller to be his right-hand man at Xavier in 2001. Matta would lead Xavier to three NCAA Tournament appearances in three seasons, including an Elite Eight run, before Ohio State hired him to be their head coach.
When Matta left, Xavier handed the reigns over to Miller and he did not disappoint. The Musketeers missed the NCAAs in his first year but danced for four straight seasons following his debut, and Miller won the regular season title in each of his final three seasons at Xavier.
The A-10 Coach of the Year in 2008, Miller won four total titles at the school and led the Musketeers to a Sweet Sixteen and an Elite Eight appearance his final two seasons.
Arizona came calling following the 2009 season, and they made it difficult for Miller to say no. After being turned down by several candidates, Wildcat officials met with Miller in New Mexico and offered him the job, but Miller initially turned down the offer. However, Arizona sweetened the pot, and he accepted the job the next day.
Despite making the Sweet 16 that year, the Wildcats' program was in turmoil as it tried to recover from the retirement of legendary coach Lute Olson. Miller quickly brought stability to the program, bringing in a strong recruiting class in his first year that missed out on the NCAA Tournament but still managed to finish 10-8 in conference play.
Arizona was back on top of the Pac-10 this year though, in Miller's second year at the helm. The Wildcats won the regular season title and are back in the NCAA Tournament.
With a top five class slated to enroll this fall, Miller appears to have the Arizona program rolling, but would he come back to Raleigh to return the Pack to its former glory?
What Makes Miller A Viable Candidate?
Miller has plenty going for him.
He's relatively young, has been successful at every stop and has seven years of head coaching experience under his belt. His two years at Arizona have proven that his success at Xavier was no fluke. While he inherited a good situation at Xavier, his quick turnaround of the Wildcats is more appealing to an NC State fan base looking to end a string of mediocrity.
Miller has also enjoyed tremendous postseason success. In his four NCAA Tournament appearances at Xavier he was only knocked out in the first round once – in his first appearance. His final two appearances saw Xavier go to the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen respectively.
Hiring Miller would also mean bringing in someone who is intimately familiar with the Wolfpack program from his years as an assistant. He's well-respected at NC State and would work with some officials who were around when he was in Raleigh, so the transition to Raleigh would be smooth. He is familiar with the area, facilities, and recruiting base, and his brother, Archie, a former Wolfpack player, would likely return with him as well.
Miller's recruiting reputation is also solid, and it didn't take him long to prove he could recruit at the highest level. His first recruiting class at Arizona, assembled after only a few months on the job, was ranked #12 nationally and included Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Derrick Williams.
His incoming class at Arizona includes four top-100 recruits and is a consensus top-five class nationally. He has the prowess on the recruiting trail to load NC State's roster in a hurry.
What Makes Miller A Long Shot?
His current job.
Miller is in just his second season as the Wildcats' coach and has it trending upward in a major way. The Arizona program, thanks to Lute Olson, has a steep history of success and on the surface it would be difficult to see why Miller would leave a successful program where he's immensely popular to take over the Wolfpack.
While there is some talk that Miller is an "East Coast guy" who would leave Arizona if the right opportunity came along, it's not clear whether he would make that jump this year. If he left now he would be abandoning a loaded roster and a great recruiting class, potentially aborting the rebuilding effort at Arizona without seeing any of the fruits of his labor.
It's really simple. Most don't think Miller would leave for NC State because the job he has now is simply too good for him to walk away from.
Pack Pride's Take
This week, Debbie Yow talked in-depth about the type of coach she was looking to hire.
"I think ideally we would want a coach who could be here 10 years, 12 years, 15 years," she stated. "That said, we're going to look for someone who has what I call the stuff. They have the ability to turn a program, have the ability to win at a high level and that you see that in their career. Wherever they go, they win.
"This is an art, it's not a science. There are coaches that you could sit down anywhere and they would figure it out. That's the kind of person we're looking for."
The fact that Miller, who has no west coast ties, and his staff, who are all from either the east coast or midwest, were able to go out to Arizona and win quickly while landing west coast talent, suggests that he could "sit down anywhere and figure it out."
Smart money says Miller is high up on Debbie Yow's list of coaching candidates. She would be hard pressed to find a better combination of experience, familiarity and reputation in someone as young as Miller.
The attraction is obvious and the obvious Wolfpack ties are there. There are also rumors that his family would prefer to be back on the east coast given they are from Pittsburgh, but publicly no coach would validate those rumors.
The question is, will Sean Miller listen if NC State makes a hard run at him once his team is out of the NCAA Tournament?
No one knows the answer to that but him.