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Q&A with Ryan Miller: Mitchell native to be inducted into NSU Hall of Fame

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From a Mitchell Kernel to an Auburn Tiger, Ryan Miller has done nearly everything with a basketball in his hand.

Friday, the Mitchell native has reached another milestone as he’s being inducted into the Northern State University Hall of Fame. The banquet is at 5 p.m. Friday at the Dakota Event Center in Aberdeen and is part of NSU’s Gypsy Days or homecoming week. Other inductees are Frank Birch, of Byron, Minn., Shari (Carney) Kvistero, of Sioux Falls, and Jami Jo (Fiechtner) Peterson, of Jacksonville, Fla. Connie (Waletich) Westhoff will be honored as the distinguished alumni, while former men’s basketball coach Don Meyer will receive the Kretchman Coaching Award.

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Miller said Tuesday he won’t be able to attend the banquet but will submit an acceptance video.

As a former Kernel, Miller, whose brother, Mike, has played in the NBA for 13 years, was a two-time all-state selection and helped Mitchell win the 1994 state championship.

Miller played for NSU from 1994-98, during which he was a two-time all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and all-academic selection. He ranks 10th on NSU’s all-time scoring list after leading his teams to four straight conference championships and the 1998 regional title. He was also named a Division II All-American as a senior.

During the North Central Region Championship in 1998, Miller scored 45 points, making nine 3-pointers and leading the Wolves to an 88-82 victory over in-state rival South Dakota State University to advance to their first Elite 8 in Louisville, Ky.

Miller, who also played professionally for the Fargo-Moorhead Beez of the International Basketball Association, began his coaching career in 2004 at Memphis. He has been an assistant at Pepperdine, New Mexico, Missouri and now coaches at Auburn under head coach Tony Barbee.

The following are excerpts from an interview with Miller discussing his induction into the Hall of Fame and his basketball journey.

Q: What’s it like to be inducted into the NSU Hall of Fame? A: Anytime you’re honored as one of the best at an institution like Northern State, that’s had great success in athletics and especially its men’s basketball program, it means a lot. When I was playing, I had a lot of great teammates, coaches and of course my family. Nothing good or nothing great happens without them. They helped me achieve greatness. When you receive an award, it’s for all of the people in your life that helped you get to that point. It’s a great honor to be in the NSU Hall of Fame.

Q: What’s your fondest memory of playing at Northern State? A: My fondest memory was when we beat South Dakota State in the region championship. I came into the program when it was transitioning from NAIA to Division II and to be able to be a part of that class that put Northern State on the map in Division II, it kind of solidified that we’d kind of arrived.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a basketball coach? A: It started with my dad. With my dad, Tom, and mom, Sheryl, both being teachers, I had an educational background. Also, we grew up around the game and I really wanted to make an impact. I had success playing the game and it’s just a natural transition to go from playing to coaching and teaching the game.

Q: Is playing basketball or coaching your passion? Or both? A: I just have a passion for the game, so I’d say both. My parents put a ball in my hands at a young age, and it’s been a big part of my life, along with my brothers’ and sister’s too. The game has given a lot to us and we’ve all wanted to give back. I will say that it is more rewarding as a coach because you can have a bigger impact on someone.

Q: As a whole, what have your coaching experiences been like? A: With every program, you try to better yourself. It’s about learning from different leaders and styles. Right now, we’re rebuilding a program at Auburn. It’s exciting to do that but it also has its challenges that come along with it.

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