West Virginia Guard Daxter Miles Expands His Role As Second Basketball Season Gets Underway

As a true freshman a year ago, West Virginia guard Daxter Miles filled a scoring and defensive role for the Mountaineers. With the departure of veterans Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, the second-year player is filling out his resume.

Daxter Miles will always be a scorer. The ebullient guard can hit spot up jumpers and get out in transition, but he's expanding his game into more areas to help fill the gaps cuased by the loss of Staten and Browne. His defense, which he often unleases accompanied with a smile and some chatter, continues to improve, but he's also working on diversifying his offensive game too. 

Last year, Miles benefitted from spotting up off the drives of Staten and Browne, who often found him with open space to shoot after defenses collapsed on him. This year, Miles sees the need to fill some of that gap from the other direction, so he is working on penetration when the situation calls for it. During West Virginia's first appearances this year, opponents played a lot of zone, which cut down on those chances, but against James Madison on Monday night the Dukes' man-to-man defense offered some opportunities to get to the rim. Miles did that more than once, and unreeled a highlight drive in the second half when he penetrated along the baseline and leaped by two JMU defenders for an acrobatic layup.

Miles' explosive jumping ability was on display on that move, but he also credits his strength for enabling him to get into the lane and get shots away against bigger opponents. He shouts out to West Virginia strength and conditioning coach Andy Kettler for improvment in that regard, but there's also a mindset that he plays with that is enabling him to expand his game. As he showed prior to last year's game with Kentucky, he fears no challenge, and that clearly comes into play whether he's shooting over a defender or driving inside against the big guys. 

Miles has the chance to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades for WVU. He could play point in an emergency, but is better off the ball at the two guard. He easily moves into a third guard role when the Mountaineers go to a smaller lineup. He can rebound (witness his five boards against JMU, including three on the offensive end). He can be a defensive pest of the first order, and although he didn't record a steal against the Dukes was a constant harrassing presence in the back court. As he continues to fill more roles, his contributions should make West Virginia even better.

Miles wishes his father a happy birthday after the James Madison win.


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