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'Stars kind of aligned' for new Bluejay assistant Ryan Miller's arrival at CU
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Creighton Basketball

'Stars kind of aligned' for new Bluejay assistant Ryan Miller's arrival at CU

Jon Nyatawa discusses Creighton keeping key assistant coach Alan Huss.

It's almost been two decades since new Creighton assistant Ryan Miller moved with his brother to Memphis, hoping to help ease the transition into the spotlight for the budding NBA talent.

But rather quickly, Mike Miller grew up.

Soon, he didn't need his older brother around to train him, chaperone him, mentor him. The kid from Mitchell, South Dakota, settled in. He would go on to a 17-year NBA career.

That meant Ryan had to find a new job — right around the time that John Calipari's Memphis program needed someone to break down video.

"The basketball world is big but it's small at the same time," Ryan Miller said. "You get to know people. And all of a sudden, they have a video coordinator job open at Memphis when Mike's playing in Memphis. And that's my foot in the door."

He couldn't have planned it any better.

Just like his latest career move.

Miller joined Creighton's staff last month as an assistant — a providential union for a program that was looking for a veteran recruiter and talent developer, and a South Dakota native who'd always hoped to land closer to his roots.

Miller will even get to coach his nephew. Mike's son Mason is a 6-foot-9 wing who committed to the Bluejays in November and will join the team this summer.

"The stars kind of aligned a little bit," Ryan Miller said. "There's the regional and family ties for me. And I love how passionate the fan base is here, and how (Greg McDermott) coaches his teams. A lot of the same philosophies that he has, I have.

"I think it all just matched up."

Now Miller gets to make his mark with the Jays. And these next weeks will be critical.

McDermott said in his initial statement last month that Miller's one of the best recruiters in the sport. The recruiting dead period ends Tuesday, and Creighton has to keep pace with its peers. Miller will help.

McDermott also noted Miller's ability to develop talent. Those skills will be put to the test when CU welcomes a top 15 recruiting class to campus next week. The offseason work begins now.

And McDermott complimented Miller's innovative approach to crafting a defensive scheme — which will be important since the Jays lost the two assistants, Paul Lusk and Terrence Rencher, most responsible for building game plans on defense last year.

Miller's eager to get started.

And there is part of his competitive soul that sees this new opportunity as another chance to prove himself.

Miller has head-coaching aspirations — and he's been grinding for 15 years as a Division I assistant, hoping each stop would aid in his development and growth as a coach. This experience at Creighton will keep propelling him forward, he said.

Then again, Miller's just grateful to be here.

Had his brother not been the No. 5 overall pick in 2000 NBA draft and the league's rookie of the year in 2001, the specifics of Ryan's journey would have played out differently.

Miller always figured he'd be connected to the game somehow, though. He just never imagined this.

"It's been awesome to work with all these kids, to be able to touch people's lives," Miller said. "But it is crazy when you think about it. Small-town Mitchell, South Dakota. You wouldn't think basketball would take our family to places it has. It's an awesome deal."


Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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