Miller returned to NC State in August 2004 to serve as the Director of Basketball Operations after coaching for one season at Western Kentucky. At WKU, his duties included assisting in both recruiting and scouting, as well as serve as the coordinator of the school's summer camps. Miller helped the Hilltoppers to a 15-13 record last season, and helped coach center Nigel Dixon who signed a free agent contract with the Orlando Magic.
Miller was a four-year letterman for NC State from 1998-2002. A former stand-out point guard, his 218 career three-pointers ranks second in NC State history, while his .428 three-point percentage ranks ninth in ACC history. Miller also ranks second in school history with a career free throw percentage of 84.6% (165-of-195). During his senior season, Miller helped lead the Wolfpack to the ACC Tournament Finals, earning ACC All-Tournament first-team honors, and also helped the Pack reach the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
Miller recently took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with Pack Pride about his career and Wolfpack basketball.
What will you be doing in your new role?
I've been promoted to full time assistant and what that entails is: on the floor coaching during the fall, during the season, and now basically I'm full time recruiting off campus, as well as dealing with our academics. That's the general part of it. I don't have that much specific detail yet, but I do know I'm full time coaching on the floor and full time recruiting; which is really big for me.
How does it differ from your previous role with the staff?
I was the director of basketball operations, which basically limited me to all administrative work. I really had a hands-on approach to our players' academics. I really had a hands-on approach to recruiting. I just couldn't go out and evaluate, but I could be here on campus and help recruiting on campus. I did all the day-to-day stuff, just dealing with the way the basketball staff and players' daily lives go. I was kind of in charge of making sure everything was going smooth.
How much have you had to learn about the recruiting aspect of coaching?
When I left NC State to become an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, it gave me the opportunity to be on the road for two full summers, which, in basketball terms is huge. It's two full evaluation periods, plus I had a whole year to recruit through the basketball season and then I went through another summer and came to NC State. So really, in the basketball world, I've been on the road three straight summers. So, its not like I'm a completely fresh guy out there on the road. But, it is an amazing feeling being out there for NC State, that's the big difference for me. Knowing you're on the road recruiting and you're walking in with an NC State shirt on and you played there…that's a whole other feeling that you have walking into a building. It's an easy sell for me. It's also very easy for me to see what people would fit into the kinds of things we look to do.
Because I played here and now I coach, I know what we're trying to accomplish here. It's fun, being out there looking for guys that can really turn NC State into what we are continuing to try to do here.
You were a player here when the staff changed to the Princeton-style offense. What kind of point guard do you recruit to fit into this offense?
The big thing with us is not being able to pin guys down and label them. That's been the biggest thing that we've had success in - finding guys that do everything. Finding guys that really aren't just one-dimensional people. As far as me, I have the ability to talk to people as I'm recruiting. I'm talking to coaches and kids [saying]: I played in the system, I know exactly how it works, and it's sometimes perceived differently by the outside world or the media. For me, being able to have played in the system really helps me talk to kids - really helps me talk to coaches. It's a great style of play. You know, when you're recruiting guards or perimeter players, they have to be able to think the game. I think that's the big thing for us, especially me being able to identify guys, to find guys who can think the game and have an IQ level to be able to play the game like we want to do. I think that's more important than finding a so-called point guard, or two guard, or three guard. For us, it's more or less finding a guy that can do everything and really know how to play.
Do you encounter any resistance from guards you recruit about the offensive system?
Well yeah, I think you deal with that in every offense. The big thing for us is finding what we want, not finding what other people want. We're not looking to recruit every point guard…we're looking to recruit players who fit what we want to do. If I'm out there talking to guys, I'm not really going to run in to too many problems because of our style of play, because the guys that we're recruiting fit it, and they can see themselves playing in it. In the NBA now, our style of play is really catching on and it's something that high school coaches love. It's something that, as a player, when you play in it you really get the hang of it and like it. Style of play for us is a positive. We really are different, and guys can see themselves succeeding in it.
How will Cedric Simmons fit into the offense this season?
Cedric is going to have a great season. We were just talking the other day about how he worked all summer. Ced has probably had as good a summer as any guy around the country I can think of [with respect to] how physically strong he is right now, and just how hard he's worked on his body, and his ability to shoot. I think Ced is really going to have an opportunity this year to be an impact player in our league. He and his family are great people, and that's a common thread in our program. The big thing when you walk around our locker room [is] our guys are really good guys, who really want to be here and want to win. When you have those types of things going, it becomes contagious.
Do high character guys typically come with the advantage of staying four years?
Not necessarily, but most of the time when you're dealing with guys who really have the whole package as a person. Usually education, development, social life - all of those things go along with being a high-character guy - a guy that has the whole package. If you have a one-track mind and you're there for one goal, that's great, but here at NC State our guys really come in the door ready to enjoy college. They're ready to enjoy the ACC. They're ready to go to class. They're excited to be here. It's a good group that really gets along, and when you get along off the court and on the court, then you really have great chemistry.
What does the NC State program do to help prepare guys for a potential professional basketball career?
I think the big thing that's your responsibility as a coach, when you develop guys and work with them on a day-in, day-out basis, [is] you have to have their long-term in mind at all times. But, I think success on the floor in college leads to better things. As a coach, you always want your guys to be able to be their best. Here it's no different, we take a lot of pride in our individual instruction program. We take a lot of pride in our weight program. Those two things right there we never deviate from, and hopefully in turn, down the line we have more and more guys able to play professionally - whether it be overseas or in the NBA. It's definitely something that we think about a lot. Every year, you take inventory [and determine] how best to put guys in a position to be successful after college. Whether it's on the floor or off, it's your job to be thinking of a long-term future.
What do you think of the team's outlook this year?
We're just really, really excited about the group that we have coming in. We're going to work as hard as we've been working, and I think we have a group of guys right now that really believe they can be special. When you go into a season thinking that way, I don't think you can ask for anything more. We're just going to try to work as hard as possible, and we're going to continue to put our guys, and our staff, and our university - in a place that's thought of well.
The article is an excerpt from the Q&A with Miller published in the October issue of the Pack Pride magazine. To learn more about the publication and how to subscribe, CLICK HERE.