Mason Miller wants to carve out his own basketball journey and this week it’s brought him back to his roots.
Miller is the son of former Kernel great Mike Miller, who like a host of his family members, starred at the Corn Palace for either Mitchell High School or Dakota Wesleyan University. Mason Miller -- a junior for Houston (Tennessee) -- will make his Corn Palace debut at 8:30 p.m. Friday against the Kernels. Miller and the Mustangs will play Yankton at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
The Miller name is synonymous with hoops in Mitchell and the Corn Palace. The name is also reaching a national level as Mason is a four-star power forward for the Mustangs, but said he “definitely,” wants to pave his own basketball path.
That path has led him to Mitchell and the Corn Palace, which is where his father starred at during the late 1990s. Mike Miller, who will not be in attendance at the classic due to his coaching duties with the Memphis Tigers, and other family members informed Mason about the electric atmosphere of the historic venue.
“They said it’s always packed and it’s always going to be a fun game,” Mason Miller said. “So that will be fun.”
The 6-foot-9, 180-pounder has scholarship offers from Memphis, Florida, TCU and Creighton. Mike has helped serve has a guide during the whole recruiting process, which he went through in the late 1990s and ultimately picked the Gators.
“He told me to keep your options open and see who else you can go with,” Mason said about his father’s recruiting advice.
And for South Dakota basketball fans of the 1990s, today and Saturday will be like a trip down memory lane. Houston’s coach, Charlie Leonard, has coached at both the high school and collegiate levels and watched Mike play on the AAU circuit.
Leonard said locals will notice some similarities between Mike and Mason, who is a left-handed shooter and is crafty around the rim.
“He’s long. He’s athletic. He can shoot the heck out of the thing,” Leonard said about Mason. “For people up here when they see him, they will remember Mike just because most people don't remember how skinny Mike was, but when they see Mason, they will be ‘Oh yeah, you look just like your dad.’ ”
Mason is also just one piece of a potent Houston (7-2) lineup. Junior Alden Applewhite (6-foot-7), junior Zander Yates (6-foot-7), senior Faizon Fields (6-foot-8) and junior T.J. Madlock (6-foot-2) round out the starting lineup.
“We’ve got a talented group,” Leonard said. “We haven’t quite meshed yet, but that’s not a big surprise yet. We are excited to be up here.”
Mason’s brother -- Mavrick -- is a freshman for the Mustangs, but is not on the varsity roster.