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Former Kernels reunite as Jackrabbits

Former Mitchell girls basketball player Macy Miller, right, goes up for a lay up in a game against Yankton at the Corn Palace in Mitchell in January 2013. Former Mitchell player Kerri Young, left, is also pictured. Miller and Young will be reunited at South Dakota State University for the 2014-15 season. (Daily Republic file photo)

BROOKINGS -- There was no summer break for former Mitchell Kernel basketball star Macy Miller, as she made an immediate transition to playing in college.

The South Dakota State University freshman has been on campus in Brookings since May 26 and started classes the next day. At summer practice, Miller has been adapting to the overall speed of the college game.

"I've noticed that it's really fast up and down," Miller said about the difference from playing in high school. "Everyone is stronger and I know I just have to keep working."

Making the transition to the Jackrabbits has been made easier for Miller with the help of former Kernel teammate and SDSU sophomore Kerri Young.

"I feel like it's just like old times," Young said about being reunited with Miller. "Things just come so naturally for us and we just know where each other is going to be on the court. Over the years, we have just grown together and our chemistry is just always there."

Young is heading into her sophomore season with SDSU after a strong freshman year, when she played a key role off the bench in the team's run to the Women's National Invitational Tournament Final Four.

Miller and Young led the Kernels to back-to-back Class AA state championship game appearances in 2012 and 2013, winning the title in 2012. Miller made her third consecutive trip to the state final as a senior in March, when the Kernels fell just short of a championship.

Miller, the 2014 South Dakota Miss Basketball award winner, said she has been told that as a freshman you have to work harder because the first year is always the toughest.

There was no break for Miller after graduation from Mitchell High School on May 18. Just over one week after wearing her cap and gown, Miller was on campus at SDSU, taking two classes and at practice preparing for the 2014-15 season.

"It's really strange," Miller said. "We finally have summer, but I'm still taking classes and doing homework."

Miller's schedule consists of training in the weight room three days per week, two days of individual training and one day of full-team training.

Young said she has advised Miller on the increase in speed from the high school game to Division I college basketball. Young had to adapt to the change of pace last year during her freshman season.

"Every time out you have to play your best game because every team you face at the college level is good," Young said.

SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said Young and Miller will have the opportunity to earn playing time this season with the Jackrabbits. He is looking for Young to continue to improve her consistency and to see how quickly Miller can adapt to the college game.

"From a skill standpoint (Miller) is phenomenal," Johnston said. "Macy is going to have great players around her and she won't have to step in and carry a team as a freshman. Having gone through the same transition, Kerri will be great for Macy. They also play really well together on the court and really read each other well."

Unlike in their playing days at the Corn Palace, Miller and Young will be competing against each other for playing time with SDSU.

"Quite honestly, I think they will both be competing for starting spots," Johnston said. "This will be the first time these two have had to compete against each other for playing time, but they certainly will be playing together a lot as well."