Miller glad to be back home in Mississippi

This is the first in a series of stories over the next several days introducing, and in some cases re-introducing, the Ole Miss men's basketball staff to you. Today, new assistant coach Owen Miller.

Owen Miller spent some time in Colorado and Texas recently. But now he's back home in Mississippi.

That has an awfully good ring to it, according to the 35-year-old Gulfport native.

"I feel right at home," said Miller, an assistant at Colorado State the past two seasons after being an assistant at Texas-San Antonio for seven years. "The great thing about the state of Mississippi is that you always get a great feeling when you come back. It's great to wake up every morning knowing I'm in Mississippi and better than that at Ole Miss."

Miller's claim to fame in Mississippi is being a part of the tradition-rich Gulfport High School basketball program and also as a young assistant coach at Mississippi State, basically right out of college. After his playing career, first at Lamar University and then at Mississippi College, Miller was on the Mississippi State staff when the Bulldogs went to the Final Four in 1996.

But there are Ole Miss roots in his family as well.

"My father finished law school here. My wife finished law school here. My grandmother on my mom's side is a graduate of Ole Miss. Two of my mom's sisters are graduates of Ole Miss. I have a lot of ties here. I still have a lot of good relationships (at MSU), but I'm on the other side of the fence now."

And he's back in the state, which has been a goal for a long time.

"It's a homecoming in a sense," said Miller, whose wife of two years, Hollie Jo, is from Poplarville and, as mentioned above, an Ole Miss Law School alum. "I get picked on by some friends how dear Mississippi is to me, how much I like the state of Mississippi and how proud I am to be from this state. I've always wanted to come back to Mississippi. It's a place I love. It's a place that's very important to me as well as my wife. I'm a family-oriented guy, and I want to be around my family and she wants to be around hers."

UM assistant coach Michael White played at Ole Miss and has coached for the past two years here. Miller joins White and head coach Andy Kennedy as staffers with real Mississippi ties.

"We've got people on this staff from Mississippi, and obviously Michael played here and has been here six or seven years total now," Miller said. "Bill (Armstrong) and Torrey (Ward) are from a neighboring state (Alabama), and they understand what I'm talking about. That we're all from the area is something we can build on and use to get this thing going where it needs to be."

Miller says working for Kennedy is something he's excited about.

"Andy is the fourth head coach I've worked for (in college basketball)," he said. "You always follow the lead of the head coach. With Andy, you'd better fasten your seat belt and hold on, because he's going at it every day. As an assistant coach, that's encouraging. You love to see the guy driving the ship getting after it. He's not going to have it any other way. That's the way he is.

"Hopefully we can make this thing much bigger than all of us," Miller continued. "Winning is hard, and in order to win you have to win every day. As a staff, we're going to try to win every day. In order for us to get where we want to get, that's got to happen."

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