Jade Miller earns Daily Republic player of the yearHeartbroken. That was the word Mitchell High School senior Jade Miller used to describe his feelings after losing the boys’ Class AA state championship game for the second year in a row to Sioux Falls O’Gorman.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
That was the word Mitchell High School senior Jade Miller used to describe his feelings after losing the boys’ Class AA state championship game for the second year in a row to Sioux Falls O’Gorman.
Miller and the Kernels fell to O’Gorman 56-49 last year and then made it back to the state tournament again this year, only to fall again to the Knights 63-48 in the championship game.
“We just came so close without coming out on top twice in a row,” Miller said.
Despite Miller’s senior season of high school basketball ending on an unhappy note, Miller had a very successful high school career. As a junior, Miller averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game.
During his senior season, the 6-foot-5 forward helped his team to a 21-4 record and to a second place finish at the state tournament.
He averaged 12.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game during the regular season and earned four varsity letters during high school.
His best game of the season came in the state tournament during the Kernels’ overtime win over Sioux Falls Roosevelt, when he led his team with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Miller performance during that game helped Mitchell outlast Roosevelt to advance to the semifinals.
Former Mitchell boys’ basketball coach Gary Munsen, who retired after this past season, said all of his starters were consistent this past season, but Miller improved his game at the end of the year when it mattered most.
“Jade was more consistent down toward the end of the year, especially in the state tournament Munsen said.
For leading his team to the state championship and having an impressive senior season when it counted the most, Miller has been chosen as The Daily Republic’s boys’ basketball player of the year. The award is voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff.
Miller, who garnered two of the three first-place votes, was awarded 13 points in a system that gave five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second, three for a third, two for a fourth and one for a fifth. Miller’s older brother, Jordan, won the Daily Republic’s player of the year award in 2008 as a member of the Kernels.
Mitchell’s Brady Maxwell and McCook Central/Montrose’s Shayne Gottlob tied for second in the voting with 11 points each and Tripp-Delmont/Armour’s Adam Fink was fourth with seven points. Hanson’s Jordan Marquardt and Winner’s Kyle Mathis rounded out the voting for the fifth and sixth spots.
Miller — who will receive a plaque with his name inscribed on it for winning the annual award — will play next year at Dakota Wesleyan University.
Munsen also said Miller got better while he was in high school, and that really showed during his senior season.
“He had some big ballgames this year,” Munsen said. “I remember when he was a sophomore, he really struggled in the state tournament and struggled some nights this season, too, but he just continued to get better. We got second place, but he gave a great effort in the state tournament, along with the rest of the team.”
Shane Murphy, head coach at DWU, said Miller will be a valuable asset to the Tigers. Murphy said Miller’s character and the way he carries himself on the court is something that he looks for when he recruits high school players. He also said Miller is very athletic — which is always a good thing.
“He’s got really good size for the position that he plays,” Murphy said. “He’s one of the more talented kids I’ve seen play at this level, and I think he’s going to continue to grow into his body and mature both physically and basketball-wise.”
Munsen also said he thinks Miller will be a great fit for the DWU men’s basketball program.
“He’s a very athletic kid and he’s got a lot of skills,” Munsen said. “He plays above and beyond when he’s on the court … he’s a good player all around.”
Miller’s father, Alan Miller, also played for DWU. Alan Miller was a four-year starter for DWU from 1981 to 1985 and is still DWU’s all-time leading scorer with 2,920 career points. He earned All-American honors three times and led the NAIA in scoring in 1985 at 32.5 points per game.
Miller said even though he didn’t finish his high school career the way he wanted to, he enjoyed his last year of high school basketball.
“Besides the finish, I think we had a great season,” Miller said. “We also went 42-8 in the last two seasons, and that’s something to be proud of. The players I played with this year and last year were really fun to play with.”
Munsen agreed, saying that Miller had a lot to do with the Kernels’ success in the past couple of years.
“Yeah, we got second in the state tournament, but we had a really great year this year,” Munsen said. “If you think about it, winning 42 out of 50 games in the past two years is quite the accomplishment, and he had a lot to do with that record.”
Miller said he enjoyed playing for Munsen and the Kernels during high school, and he’s looking forward to playing in college.
“I’m excited to go to DWU and to play for coach Murphy. It was fun playing for ‘the legend,’ ” he said, re-ferring to Munsen, “but I’m excited to play college ball.”
Here’s a look at the other players who received votes:
-Mitchell’s Brady Maxwell averaged 13 points and 7.3 rebounds per game during the regular season, helping his team to the Class AA state championship. Maxwell, who was a member of the state tournament’s all-tournament team, received 11 points in the voting.
-McCook Central/Montrose’s Shayne Gottlob averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. Gottlob helped lead his team to a 17-4 record. He received 11 points in the voting.
-Tripp-Delmont/Armour’s Adam Fink lead his team to a 16-7 record this season. He averaged 19 points and five rebounds per game. He received 7 points in the voting.
-Hanson’s Jordan Marquardt helped his team to a 20-6 record and to a fifth place finish at the state championship. He averaged 12.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He received 2 points in the voting. Winner’s Kyle Mathis averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds per game. He helped his team to
a 19-7 record. He received 1 point in the voting.