One of Mitchell High School's best basketball players in recent memory is returning home to continue his collegiate career.
Jordan Miller, a star for the Kernels in the 2007-08 season, signed his letter of intent to play with Dakota Wesleyan University late Monday night, it was announced Tuesday. Miller used a redshirt this season at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn., and comes to the Tigers with four years of eligibility remaining.
"I'm thrilled to have Jordan back," DWU coach John Hemenway said. "I think he fits in very well with the way we play and what we're trying to do."
During his senior season with the Kernels, Miller looked at SMSU, the University of South Dakota and George Mason before settling on SMSU. He said Tuesday that Dakota Wesleyan just seemed like a better fit.
"Southwest just wasn't the place for me," he said. "It's a great place, I just feel like it would be better for me to play at DWU. It'll be a great experience, playing in front of the hometown crowd again."
Miller, who averaged 16.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game his senior season, has the ability to play several positions, which should allow him to make an impact right away for the Tigers.
"I would say that his most natural position is probably the shooting guard or even a small forward, but I think he can probably play some point for us in a pinch," Hemenway said. "And if he continues to grow like I think he has the past couple years, he maybe could play the forward spot. He's a versatile player."
During his redshirt season with the Mustangs, Miller was able to practice with a team that made it to the Elite Eight at the NCAA Division II basketball tournament. Hemenway said that experience will be invaluable to Miller and the Tigers this season.
"I think his redshirt year this year can only help him. I don't see any negatives with that," Hemenway said. "If we could, I'd like to redshirt all the kids that we sign, but we're not in the situation to do that. Anytime you can redshirt and add a year of practice, lifting, working out and getting better and still have four years left, I don't see any negatives to that situation."
As a senior, Miller, then a 6-foot-3 guard, led the Kernels to a 19-7 overall record and a runner-up finish at the Class AA state tournament. He was an all-state first-team guard, The Daily Republic's boys' basketball player of the year and a finalist for both the Mr. Basketball and South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year awards.
To go with his strong basketball resume, Miller, now 6-foot-5, has a family with a rich basketball tradition at Dakota Wesleyan. His father, Alan, was a four-year starter for the Tigers from 1981-1985. He is still the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,920 career points and is also the career leader in field goals (1,154), free throws (609) and scoring average (26.3 points per game). He led DWU to a pair of SDIC championships and his field goal and free-throw totals are South Dakota collegiate records.
Jordan Miller's uncles, Tom and Chris Miller, also starred at Dakota Wesleyan.
"(Jordan Miller) comes from great basketball bloodlines," Hemenway said. "They have a strong history at Dakota Wesleyan. The Miller name is synonymous with DWU basketball. It's exciting.
"With all that said, I'm also excited because Jordan is a very good basketball player. I think he'll make his own mark on our program."
Miller joins an already-strong recruiting class for the 2009-10 season. Avon's Matt Dykstra, Hurley's Bo LaCroix and USD transfer Tate Pesicka have also signed with DWU. Hemenway said the addition of Miller gives the Tigers some much-needed depth.
"That was one of our focuses this spring," he said. "We need to be a little deeper. We had some injuries to key players and I felt we were a little shorthanded at the end of last season. I'm trying my best not to get caught in that predicament again."