Mike Miller steps down as Memphis assistant coach

Mitchell native and University of Memphis assistant basketball coach Mike Miller, center, watches Brandon Valley and Rochester (Minn.) John Marshall play at the Hoop City Classic Saturday in Sioux Falls. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mike Miller announced Wednesday he is leaving his assistant coaching position at the University of Memphis.

The former Mitchell High School great had spent the past two years coaching under Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Miller, who spent 17 seasons in the NBA, tweeted that he hopes to, “spend more time focused on family and wherever the journey will take me next."

“As much as I’ve loved this job and had a blast being part of the special program Coach is building, the past few months have made me realize it’s time for me to spend more time focused on family and wherever the journey will take me next,” Miller said.

Miller, 40, said he will “find a way to stay in basketball and continue to make an impact on the city that I love so much! I will always be a TIGER.”

The Tigers went 43-24 over the past two seasons after landing the nation’s top recruiting class in 2019, according to 247Sports. Miller was widely considered one of the Tigers’ biggest assets on the recruiting trail.


“The past two years have been amazing, and I have so many people to thank: Coach Hardaway for believing in me, all our players for their commitment, the University of Memphis and its incredible fans, my wonderful wife and kids, and the entire city of Memphis for everything you have done for me and my family,” Miller added. “All of you made this opportunity possible for me, and I’m truly grateful.”

He has two sons in high school, Mason, a senior, and Mavrick, a sophomore, who both play at Houston High School in Germantown, Tennessee. Mason is a top-100 recruit by 247Sports, with offers from Memphis, Indiana and TCU, which is where Mike’s brother, Ryan, coaches.

Miller spent one year away from basketball following his final NBA season in 2016-17 with the Denver Nuggets, capping a career in which he won two NBA championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. His family has settled in Memphis, a city he played seven seasons in while with the Grizzlies, where he logged 453 of his 1,032 professional games. Miller was hired in April 2018 when Hardaway was brought in as the Tigers' coach.

“I want to thank my brother, Mike Miller, for the two years he was with the team. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Hardaway said in a statement. “We will stay in touch and I (look) forward to him attending practices from time to time.”

In a statement, University of Memphis Athletic Director Laird Veatch also wished Miller well.


“On behalf of the University of Memphis, I want to wish Mike Miller the best of luck in the next chapter in his life and his career. I have the utmost respect for his decision to spend more time with his family. Mike has been a wonderful ambassador for our program and our city and I have no doubt his future will be filled with success.”The 2019-20 Memphis season finished in an underwhelming manner, after the Tigers were ranked No. 14 in the preseason Associated Press top-25. Seven-foot-one standout James Wiseman was the nation's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class and chose to play for Hardaway, his former high school coach at Memphis East High School. But early in his freshman season, Wiseman was suspended when the NCAA deemed Hardaway had acted as a booster by facilitating Wiseman's move to Memphis in 2017. Wiseman served part of his suspension but eventually decided to withdraw from school to prepare for the NBA Draft after playing just three games for the Tigers.

The Tigers were 21-10 when the season ended due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Tigers at the American Athletic Conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. On social media on March 12, Miller acknowledged the sudden end of the season.

"To the players ... This season wasn't easy for any of you but you handled it like the stars that you are! I'm completely honored to have been able to go through this with you," he said. "I just wanted to say thank you for believing in us and for believing in Memphis! The future is bright and we are family forever! Love y'all!"

Miller’s move to college coaching changed the status of his namesake high school basketball event in South Dakota — the Mike Miller Classic. In 2018, Miller dissociated himself from the classic and his AAU basketball program (M33M Basketball) because of his collegiate coaching role. The program took the name of Hoop City Basketball Club, and the event changed to the Hoop City Classic, which is slated to be held in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Yankton in December.

In 2018, Miller told the Republic about balancing his coaching duties and being a father. On that December Saturday, he coached Memphis in a home game and flew to Sioux Falls for the Hoop City Classic that night.

“You have a lot to balance, being a dad, being a husband, being a good coach,” Miller said. “Getting out and watching guys play, that’s just a lot of fun, so you find a way to make it all work … It’s challenging but it’s something I’ve found to be a lot of fun,” he added on coaching. “I love the chance to be around the game that I love and the chance to really give what I can give back.”

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