Gonzaga’s Sam Miller commits to play basketball at Dayton

As Sam Miller put up some practice shots at his house on Tuesday evening, the Gonzaga forward’s mind began to wander to a familiar place — his recruitment.

Offers from Dayton, Gonzaga University, Penn State and Providence, among others, floated as possible destinations for the versatile 6-foot-8 forward, but the more Miller shot, the more he envisioned himself in a Dayton Flyers uniform.

Gonzaga senior forward Sam Miller committed to play basketball at Dayton on Wednesday (Courtesy of Gonzaga Basketball) Gonzaga senior forward Sam Miller committed to play basketball at Dayton on Wednesday (Courtesy of Gonzaga Basketball)

After discussing the notion with his parents that night and sleeping on it, per his father’s advice, Miller woke up with an even greater conviction, leading him to call Dayton Coach Archie Miller and officially commit to the Division I program on Wednesday.

“They’ve got all the right things for me and I feel like I can get a lot better and play there early as a freshman,” Miller said in a Wednesday phone interview. “I’ve also got some family out in Dayton, which is something I didn’t have with any of the other schools, so that was a factor, too.”

Miller said that Dayton’s coach called the news “one of the happiest moments of his life,” an assertion that Miller said may have been an exaggeration but one that reiterated the confidence and connection he had built with the coaching staff during his recruitment.

With Miller’s commitment, Dayton lands a player who can score in the paint, knock down the perimeter shot, handle the ball with proficiency and defend multiple positions. His versatility, along with his evolving defensive skills and strength, serve to fit in well with a Dayton team that made waves in the 2014 NCAA Tournament by reaching the Elite Eight for just the third time in school history as a No. 11 seed.

“The coaches said I’ll be making screens and playing off pick-and-pops, and they also see me pushing the ball on the break,” Miller said. “I can do a number of things in their system, which I’m excited about.”

Miller averaged 12.1 points as a junior despite battling injuries for much of the season, as did a number of Eagles, resulting in a 12-17 record. But following a solid summer on the AAU circuit with Team Takeover and with the team’s top three scorers returning, including highly touted fellow senior guard Bryant Crawford and sophomore Chris Lykes, the Eagles should return to contending status in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

“A lot of us were inexperienced in terms of getting a lot of minutes last season, but I think after going through that, we’ve come together as a team,” Miller said. “We’ve played well in the summer and we’re ready to have a great season and show a new kid of intensity.”

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Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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