Buried deep in Ryan Miller’s bio is the fact he made nine 3-pointers in a college game. He was a shooter, but Miller eventually figured out he had a shot to accomplish more in the game as a coach.
“I realized I wasn’t going to make a ton of money playing basketball professionally,” he said. “The next step in my career was being a coach and helping young kids and making a difference in people’s lives.”
He worked for John Calipari at Memphis and Steve Alford at New Mexico, and now he’s with Dave Rice at UNLV.
Rice announced the hiring of Miller, 38, as a Rebels assistant coach on Wednesday, filling the vacancy created in mid-March when Heath Schroyer accepted the head coaching job at Tennessee-Martin.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some great coaches,” Miller said. “I knew this would be a great opportunity to work with Coach Rice. That’s what I’ve tried to do in my career is go with guys I can learn from and keep getting better at this profession.”
Widely regarded as a strong recruiter, Miller spent the past two seasons as an Auburn assistant to Tony Barbee, who was fired March 12.
The connection between Rice and Miller dates to their years as rival Mountain West assistants, when Rice was at Brigham Young. Miller, on Alford’s staff at New Mexico from 2007 to 2012, said he developed respect for Rice while scouting and preparing to play BYU.
“When I talked to Steve Alford, he told me Ryan had been in charge of doing their scouting reports, and he said Ryan is very, very good in terms of game planning and scouting,” Rice said. “He has a great reputation in terms of skill development.
“I was looking for someone who is well rounded, someone who is experienced at the Division I level and someone who is a good recruiter. It wasn’t just about recruiting, but Ryan is a very good recruiter.”
Miller was responsible for recruiting some of the Lobos’ top players, including Cameron Bairstow, Hugh Greenwood, Darington Hobson and Tony Snell.
“I think we’re going to recruit at the highest level, and they have already shown an ability to do that here,” Miller said. “I was kind of watching from afar, but I could see it coming. This has a chance to be a special place.
“And I was a huge fan of the ’90s Rebels teams, like everybody else.”
Rice and his staff rounded up one of the nation’s top recruiting classes this year. Dwayne Morgan, a 6-foot-7-inch forward from Baltimore, and Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-9 forward from Wilbraham, Mass., signed in the fall. Findlay Prep shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, a McDonald’s All-American, orally committed in February and is expected to sign a letter of intent today or Friday.
Cody Doolin, a senior point guard and a graduate transfer from the University of San Francisco, signed a scholarship agreement Wednesday.
Schroyer was UNLV’s associate head coach, a title neither Miller nor Rice’s other assistants, Stacey Augmon and Todd Simon, will carry into next season.
After a four-year pro career that Miller spent playing in Australia and with the Fargo-Moorhead Beez of the International Basketball Association, he was an operations assistant at Memphis under Calipari from 2004 to 2006.
But his start in basketball came early in South Dakota.
“My dad put a basketball in my hands basically as soon as I was born,” said Miller, a Division-II All-American at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.
His younger brother, Mike, plays for the Memphis Grizzlies after helping the Miami Heat win the past two NBA championships.
“We’re going to help develop guys at the highest level,” Miller said.
“The reason my brother has played 14 years in the NBA is not because he can jump like Michael Jordan. He’s fundamentally sound and works very hard at his craft.”
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.