Utah State captain, father to-be is set to lead on senior night despite injury

Utah State guard Brock Miller (22) drives to the basket as Colorado State ahead Adam Thistlewood (31) defends through the first half of an NCAA faculty basketball sport Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal through AP)

Estimated learn time: 8-9 minutes

LOGAN — Halfway by way of the second half of Utah State basketball’s 32-point win over New Orleans on Dec. 11, Aggies guard Sean Bairstow sliced his finger open and blood spewed onto the courtroom.

Fellow guard Steven Ashworth grabbed a towel to wash it up, and a workforce supervisor got here onto the ground to help. They appeared to have it taken care of, however as play was about to restart, senior guard Brock Miller observed extra drops of blood close to the free-throw line.

Motioning for a towel, Miller proceeded to splotch up the remaining drops. As he completed up, a chant reigned down from the coed sections.

“Mr. Clear! Mr. Clear”

Miller, whose signature look is a bald head with the scarf, liked it. He turned to the gang, waved his arms within the air, and inspired the chants.

Quick ahead two months.

After lacking 14-straight video games as a result of an ongoing decrease again damage he sustained final season, Miller took the courtroom on Tuesday evening towards New Mexico. He hasn’t performed for the reason that Air Drive sport on Dec. 29.

Six minutes into the second half, Miller hit a nook 3-ball and the gang erupted. As Miller waved his arms towards the gang, the mantra from December resurfaced.

“Mr. Clear! Mr. Clear!”

Miller smiled, and as soon as once more inspired the gang.

Miller’s response to the mantra is an ideal illustration of his persona. The 25-year-old Sandy native has Alopecia, a illness the place all of the hair on his physique falls off. The mantra, a reference to the bald mascot of the cleansing model Mr. Clear, might have been seen as offensive to some. However to not Miller.

“I simply suppose that simply exhibits the sort of nature this child has,” Utah State assistant coach Nate Dixon mentioned. “You already know, like, he is a straightforward going man who loves college students. He loves the followers. And he simply went with it. You already know, he might have been mad about it; he wasn’t mad about it. He had enjoyable with it.”

It has been a roller-coaster season for the Aggies, particularly in convention play. They misplaced 5 video games in a row in January after which received 5 in a row. Then, they proceeded to lose 4 in a row.

However all through the season, Miller has been a relentless presence on the sidelines, regardless of not taking part in a big portion of it. The captain has persistently discovered methods to assist the workforce, whether or not it is by exhibiting up on time to practices, sending out textual content messages to teammates or being within the huddles earlier than the sport.

“He is a pacesetter off the courtroom. I imply, he is teaching, serving to these guys,” Dixon mentioned. “He is simply, , he brings much more that individuals do not ever see.”

Miller has managed to assist maintain issues mild, regardless of the back-and-forth season.

Whereas unable to apply, he’d beg the coaches to place him on the scout workforce, saying, “I can go somewhat bit coach.” His teammates would dish it again to him. “Hey Mr. Clear man, you are gonna go get the ground.”

The jokes occur within the movie room, too. At all times sitting on the entrance row whereas the workforce watches tape, Miller has a operating joke about popcorn.

“I am going to go into movie and I am going to go, ‘hey, man, did you get your popcorn prepared,” Dixon mentioned. “He is like, ‘Dixon, are we gonna be in right here a very long time? Do I would like my popcorn as we speak?'”

After somebody introduced popcorn to the workforce following the win over New Mexico, he instructed placing it on the desk of head coach Ryan Odom — a fellow popcorn admirer — to see if anyone steals it.

“He retains it severe when it must be however he is a good keel,” Dixon mentioned. “You at all times know what you are going to get from the dude. He by no means had a nasty day. It is not possible for Brock Miller to have a nasty day.”

“You already know, he simply gives an depth, management that’s so necessary for any workforce,” Odom mentioned. “He means a ton to us.”

Miller’s worth is obvious — even past his management. A four-year starter, he is a dependable perimeter defender and a harmful 3-point risk. He is persistently averaged simply over 8 factors per sport all through his profession.

This season Utah State has gone 10-5, together with a Quad 1 win over Oklahoma, the place Miller hit back-to-back 3-pointers to present the Aggies a late lead. In the course of the robust convention slate, through which Miller was out, the Aggies went simply 6-8.

Miller has handled three bulging discs, two fractures and “a pair” of tears in his decrease again. The damage wasn’t sufficient to finish Miller’s season, however the fixed ache has admittedly made issues troublesome.

“Your again impacts all the pieces in your life,” Miller mentioned, whereas sitting within the acquainted entrance row of the movie room. “You do not understand how a lot you utilize it till you damage it.”

However not one to complain, the Brighton Excessive graduate mentioned his “degree of gratitude” towards the sport has grown as a result of he is needed to sit out. He is fast to thank the trainers and the college for offering sources to assist.

Miller appears to be a strolling instance of the Spanish phrase “Así es la vida,” which he might have heard on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina, throughout his church mission.

Instantly translated to English, the phrase means “That is life,” and extra not directly, it means “that is the way it goes.”

Sitting on the sideline in ache, Miller managed to drift.

“I would say that my perspective of life and sort of the place I used to be heading and stuff, it had stayed fairly degree, as a result of sort of what defines me as a human being,” Miller mentioned.

“Basketball has by no means been one thing that is outlined my life and who I’m as an individual,” he added. “I take pleasure in it rather a lot; it is actually enjoyable. I really like taking part in. You already know, my perspective is at all times, put God first, household second.”

It is a wholesome perspective to have, particularly contemplating basketball is not the one necessary factor taking place in Miller’s life. His spouse, Bailey, is pregnant with their first little one and she or he’s anticipated to present delivery to a child boy Wednesday.

A pregnant spouse and an injured husband has little question made for a busy winter for the Millers. However Miller admits he feels a combination of “nerves and “pleasure” about beginning a household.

“Clearly, there’s rather a lot occurring,” Miller mentioned. “However it hasn’t been tremendous troublesome due to how wonderful (Bailey) is as an individual and as a associate. She supported me each step of the way in which. And, clearly, , it is an thrilling time. … We’re excited for the chance to start out a household, it is one thing that we have at all times wished to do.”

However earlier than turning into a father to a boy who “already has a scholarship provide” based on Odom, Miller has an enormous basketball sport to play in on Saturday evening towards Colorado State.

Miller, who technically has one 12 months of eligibility remaining as a result of COVID-19, might be honored on senior evening Saturday, in what may very well be his remaining sport within the Spectrum.

If he’s achieved after this season, it will be the top of an period for a participant who’s the hyperlink to 4 totally different Aggies basketball generations.

Miller was recruited out of highschool by Stew Morrill — the winningest coach in Aggie historical past. However Morrill retired in 2015, so Miller performed below Tim Duryea his freshman season from 2017-18; Duryea was changed by Craig Smith in 2018. Miller performed below Smith from his redshirt freshman season by way of his junior 12 months. Now, following Smith’s departure to Utah, Miller is a senior below Odom.

“I have been a part of so many alternative groups and so many alternative issues that I might say, , now it is sort of all come collectively this final season,” Miller mentioned. “My understanding is rather a lot higher, I would say, from the place I used to be after I first began right here.

Miller has began 104 video games in his profession, seventh most in Aggies historical past. He is helped Utah State qualify for 3 NCAA Tournaments, win two Mountain West match championships and one regular-season championship.

Following senior evening at Colorado State, the Aggies go to San Jose State Friday. Then it is onto the Mountain West Match.

At 16-13 on the season, the Aggies will not safe an at-large bid to the NCAA Match, however they’ve sufficient expertise and high quality wins on the season that exhibits they’re able to operating the desk at their convention match and incomes an computerized bid. Presently seventh within the convention — 52nd nationally within the KenPom.com rating — Utah State believes they will do it once more, and Miller is concentrated on serving to his workforce win.

“The one factor he is ever mentioned to me since day one, he mentioned to the opposite guys, for the workforce is, I need one other ring,” Dixon mentioned.

It begins Saturday evening. A number of relations will come as much as watch Miller play at a college and in a metropolis and for a workforce that every one “means a lot” to him. In the event that they’re fortunate, possibly he’ll hit a couple of 3-pointers, igniting a number of chants of “Mr. Clear!”

It doesn’t matter what in the end occurs, Miller might be all proper. His “by no means too excessive, by no means too low” mantra has gotten him by way of 5 seasons of Aggies basketball. It is helped him by way of a crippling again damage, and it will assist him as he turns into a father within the coming days.

Basketball, like all the pieces else, has its place.

“After I go dwelling to my spouse and now my children quickly, it will be a factor of, after I go dwelling, I am dwelling,” Miller mentioned. “I am dwelling with the household and people stresses and issues will not translate to the way in which that I deal with them and the issues that I do and that I will be constant.”

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