COVINGTON, Ga. — After a phenomenal senior season, it turns out that it’s the University of North Carolina-Greensboro that wins the Isaiah Miller sweepstakes.
Miller took to Twitter last Sunday afternoon to express his choice of UNC-Greensboro over Tennessee State, East Carolina and several other smaller schools, and on Thursday Miller made his commitment official when he signed his letter of intent to play for the Spartans.
Miller said making the decision was a major relief.
“Man, it feels great,” he said. “It’s a great reliever. I’m really happy about it, honestly.”
Miller attributes his decision to finding a lot of familiarity at Greensboro that made him feel right at home during his official visit last weekend.
“I went up there and just loved the campus,” Miller said. “The players were really just like me — silly and goofy, but they know when it’s time to get to work and get serious. I really wanted to go to Georgia, but that just didn’t come. But at the visit (to UNC-Greensboro), it really opened my eyes to how special this school is.”
Always a prolific scorer, the combo guard exploded onto the national scene this season as a transfer to Newton High. He gave the Rams a highlight reel type of player that Rasmussen said the school has rarely seen.
“He gave our team a very special element with his explosiveness and athleticism that was extra exciting for our fans, and everyone who saw us play this year,” Rasmussen said. “But he also did everything we asked of him, and stepped in and made a huge impact, helping to form the best backcourt in the state.”
And that’s not hyperbole, either. Miller teamed up with fellow senior and Jacksonville signee J.D. Notae and sophomore Austin Hagans — arguably one of the nation’s top high school point guards — to form what at times was an unstoppable scoring force.
Miller, a 6-foot-2 senior, transferred from Eastside after his junior season and exploded on the recruiting scene, partly because of his penchant for high-flying, highlight reel quality dunks as he helped the Newton Rams to a 28-2 record, Region 8-AAAAAA championship and Elite Eight state tournament appearance where Newton lost to eventual state champion Tift County.
Miller spent his first three years at Eastside, and while he still has major love for where he jump started his high school career, Miller said transferring was a decision he felt he needed to make for his betterment.
“It definitely payed off,” he said. “No disrespect at all to Eastside. They put me to work over there. I appreciate all the work I did over there. Coach Trap, coach Wren and coach Freeman, they all taught me a lot about basketball and life. This was just the topping on the cake at Newton. They just finished it off. I really learned a lot.”
Rasmussen said the growth and gains Miller achieved in his lone season as a Ram are easily discernible. And he’s just as proud of him for what he’s accomplished in the classroom.
“We told him what he had to do to earn a full NCAA Division I scholarship, and he proceeded to go to work to make it happen,” Rasmussen said. “In choosing Greensboro, he’s getting to play in arguably the best state in the country for college basketball. So he will get to play on the big stage and get a chance to go up against the best of the best every year. He’ll get every opportunity to earn his degree and play against the North Carolinas and Dukes in the process. We are very proud and excited for him.”
Miller earned a reputation as a high-flyer on the court, particularly after his nine-dunk performance in an early season showcase game against Spartanburg Day and the nationally acclaimed Zion Williamson.
In that game, although Williamson had over 30 plus points, Miller’s high-flying performance upstaged the 6-foot-7 junior star, and served as a coming out party of sorts for the Newton senior.
“I was loving that game,” he said. “The crowd was into it and everything. I definitely think that game is a highlight of my career. It opened people’s eyes and they knew not to sleep on me after that game.”
The Spartans are a Division I NCAA program that plays out of the Southern Conference. UNC-Greensboro finished the 2016-17 season with a 25-10 record and a 14-4 mark in the SoCon. The Spartans finished the season with a 90-77 loss to Syracuse in the first round of the NIT.
Miller said he’s looking forward to developing his mid-range game and his perimeter shooting. He said the coaches at Greensboro already have an idea as to what kind of player they want him to be.
“I’m really a point guard slasher,” he said. “I played a role this year at Newton, but (at UNC-Greensboro), they’re looking at me like a Russell Westbrook type of player for the team.”
And Miller welcomes the expectations. He said his next level success is all part of a larger plan.
“I ain’t stopping here,” he said. “I’m gonna keep going. I’m trying to change my family’s lives with this decision. It’s one of those things I have to take care of.”