Mitchell's Macy Miller earns Daily Republic player of year awardAll three of Macy Miller’s siblings say they’ve helped mold the Mitchell junior into the player she is today. They’re proud to do so.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
All three of Macy Miller’s siblings say they’ve helped mold the Mitchell junior into the player she is today. They’re proud to do so.
Ever since she can remember, basketball has been a huge part of Miller’s life. When December rolls around each year, nearly the only conversation in the family’s household revolves around the sport.
Macy is the youngest of Alan and Shelly Miller’s four children. Tara, Jordan and Jade each wore a Kernels uniform and have stayed connected with the sport since high school graduation.
Growing up, Miller attended more games than she can count. There were several hours she spent napping on her mother’s lap while Tara, Macy’s sister, played at the Corn Palace. Her first organized basketball was as a second-grader, but as she got older, she stayed awake at the Palace, and closely watched Jordan and Jade, her two older brothers, compete for Mitchell.
“We talk about basketball all the time,” said Miller, who verbally committed to South Dakota State University last summer. “It’s a lot of basketball. I’ve been around it most of my life, so I’m just used to it.”
As a junior, Miller put together her best individual season ince joining the varsity squad as an eighth-grader, showing all the skills she’s picked up and learned from her entire family.
She helped Mitchell to a 22-4 finish and a runner-up spot in the Class AA state tournament. Miller averaged 19 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.3 assists per game and never missed a start.
For her standout season, Miller has been named The Daily Republic’s girls’ basketball player of the year, an award that’s voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff. Miller was a unanimous decision for the top spot, taking all three first-place votes in a system that awards five points for first place, four for second place, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth.
Miller’s teammate Kerri Young, who’s received the last two Daily Republic player of the year awards, was second in the voting with 12 points, Parkston’s Erica Herrold was third with seven points, Sanborn Central/Woonsocket’s Shelby Selland was fourth with five points, Avon’s Chesney Nagel was fifth with four points and Chamberlain’s Kennedy Wagner was sixth with two points.
But what made Miller stand out was helping her team to a second consecutive state championship game appearance, leading her team in scoring and her versatility on the court.
Miller, a cousin of Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller, credits her family for a large portion of the successes she’s consumed.
“She had the luxury of growing up with two older brothers that could beat on her a little bit,” said Tara (Miller) Gubbrud, who is 11 years older than Macy. “I think that helped her in the long run. That helped her be mentally tough and taught her to fight, scratch and claw to score a basket any way against them.”
Jordan Miller, who recently finished a four-year basketball career with Southwest Minnesota State University, remembers playing two-on-one against Jade and Macy growing up. Jordan is six years older than Macy. Jade, two years older than Macy, plays for the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s team.
Jordan said the biggest thing that sticks out about his sister is her dribbling skills, something their father has always preached. He said it’s rare for many high school girls’ players to be able to control the ball with both hands, but added Macy — who’s naturally right-handed — doesn’t have a weak side.
In fact, one of Miller’s signature moves is when she drives down the left baseline with her left hand, breaks through a wall of defenders and puts the ball off the glass for a layup. On the same play, she also has been known to stop and pull up for a short jumper that drops on a regular basis.
After games, she goes home and reviews everything with her parents. Besides Alan’s impressive career at DWU, Shelly played high school basketball at Avon and played two years at Wesleyan.
Mitchell girls’ coach Wes Morgan was shocked at the improvement Miller made from her sophomore to her junior season. Miller averaged 15 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore, a year she was honored as a first-team all-state selection.
“First of all, she’s so darn competitive,” Morgan said. “She also has a knack for scoring. She likes to gain contact, so she can get the basket and shoot the free throw.
“She’s a tough competitor that has a strong will to beat you. She doesn’t just want to win, she wants to beat you.”
This season, Miller set Mitchell High School’s single-season scoring record for girls’ basketball with 493 points. Despite scoring 31 points as a single-game season high, perhaps her best game came in the semifinals of the state tournament against Sioux Falls Washington.
Late in the game, the Kernels needed baskets to maintain their lead and got several layups from their top-scoring threat. Miller, who finished the game with a team-high 21 points, said qualifying for the state tournament was the top memory from the year.
After the championship game loss to Sioux Falls Lincoln, Miller earned an all-tournament team selection for the second straight year. During state, she played nearly all 32 minutes in the semifinals and championship games, rarely coming out for a break.
Miller knows she has things to work on to improve her game before she becomes a Jackrabbit in the fall of 2014.
“I need to get stronger, take it to the hoop more and focus on my free throws,” she said. “My brothers always make fun of me. They say I need to shoot the three more.”
She knows next year’s Kernel squad will have a different look for her final high school year, as Mitchell’s other four starters from this past season were seniors and will graduate. Still, when she has questions, needs advice or wants someone to play one-on-one against, she’ll have plenty of options not only on the team, but within the family.
“It’s going to be a new team,” Miller said. “But I’m still going to have to show up every game and play hard.”
Here’s a look at the other five players who received points in the voting:
- Mitchell’s Kerri Young averaged 16.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this year, helping the Kernels to a second-place finish at the state tournament. She became Mitchell High School’s all-time leading career point-scorer and finished 1,760 points. Young earned 12 points in the voting.
- Erica Herrold, a senior, averaged 20.4 points and 8 rebounds per game for Parkston High School. The Trojans did not qualify for the state tournament in Herrold’s senior season, one year after she helped the school to a runner-up finish at state as a junior. Herrold garnered seven points.
- Sanborn Central/Woonsocket junior Shelby Selland helped her team to a fifth-place finish at the Class B state tournament. Selland, who earned five points in the voting, averaged 17 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
- Avon junior Chesney Nagel averaged 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3 assists per game in her junior season. She earned four points in the voting and her team did not qualify for the state tournament.
n Kennedy Wagner, a junior at Chamberlain High School, helped her team to an eighth-place finish at the Class A state tournament. Wagner earned two points in the voting and finished the year averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
Past Daily Republic girls' basketball players of the year award winners
1994-Erin Olson, Mitchell
1995-NaTascha Dawson, Howard
1996-Mandy Koupal, Wagner
1997-Mandy Koupal, Wagner
1998-Mandy Koupal, Wagner
1999-Lacey Johnson, Wessington Springs
2000-Lacey Johnson, Wessington Springs
2001-Vanessa Yanes, Wagner
(2002 Season Switch)
2003-Jenna Hoffman, Mitchell
2004-Jeana Hoffman, Mitchell
2005-Allison Johnson, Mount Vernon
2006-Jill Young, Mitchell Christian
2007-Megan Doyle, Hanson
2008-Terri VerSteeg, Platte-Geddes
2009-Rhianna Gullickson, Hanson
2010-Hillary Paulson, Freeman
2011-Kerri Young, Mitchell
2012-Kerri Young, Mitchell
2013-Macy Miller, Mitchell