Jordan Miller has heard it from everyone and in every way possible.
Fans yell, “He has no right!” Opposing coaches, a bit more cordially, scream, “Force him right!” His own coaches constructively tell him that a better right hand would give defenders virtually no way of guarding of him. He knows. Trust him, he knows.
“I have been listening to the left hand, right hand stuff since I got good at basketball,” Miller, a junior on Loudoun Valley, said. “It’s something I need to improve, but I also think I can go right. I just also am extremely confident going left and don’t think anyone can stop me that way.”
Besides, all the left-hand chatter usually puts Miller at the center of attention. He likes it that way (“I’m not one to shy away from the spotlight,” he said.) And his predominantly left-handed scoring ability has led the Vikings (27-1) into the Virginia 4A state quarterfinals.
Miller averages a team-best 22.8 points per game, and even though he is the team’s second-tallest player at 6-foot-4, he gets them as a spindly combo guard. He does not have a scholarship offer, but has drawn interest from a list of schools including George Mason, Mount St. Mary’s, Radford, College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina. With his junior season wrapping up, Miller wants to improve his ball-handling, sure up his jumper and add as much weight as he can to his 165-pound frame.
“I have to put on pounds. I don’t like the way the protein shakes taste, but who does?” Miller said. “You just have to drink them.”
Polishing his shooting and handles has proven a bit easier. Miller does the former through repetition, and the latter by not cutting any corners during workouts.
As he’s grown up, Miller has noticed that coaches tailor drills for right-handed players. He has also seen most lefties switch to their left, assuming the coaches were inviting them to work on their dominant hand like the rest of the players in the gym. But Miller always listens to the exact direction, which often leaves him pushing his right hand for long stretches.
In Loudoun Valley’s 64-63 win over Handley on Friday, his versatility was tested on the game’s deciding play. With the Vikings trailing by one in the final moments, Miller turned the corner going left and found two defenders obstructing his path. He made a split-second decision to crossover to his right and attack the paint down the middle of the floor. The Judges fouled him, he buried two free throws and Loudoun Valley won the 4A West region title because of it.
The crowd immediately streamed onto the court and lifted Miller into the air. Dozens of kids asked for pictures, some shy and others aggressively tracking him down. A worker from a nearby Chick-fil-A nudged her way past a group of fans and shrieked, “Jordan! You won!”
He was, again, at the core of the action. But this time it wasn’t because of what he perceivably can’t do. It was because of all that he conceivably can.
“Get better all the time, get some offers and go to play college ball,” Miller said. “And then hopefully along the way I can have more moments like that.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 36
That’s the number of combined wins between Prince George’s County powers Wise (18-0) and Eleanor Roosevelt (18-4) heading into their 4A state playoff matchups Tuesday. The Pumas (facing C.H. Flowers) and Raiders (facing Bowie) each sit in the bottom half of the South region and are on course to meet in the regional semifinal Thursday.
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PHOTOS FROM LAST NIGHT
Gonzaga upended Paul VI for the WCAC boys championship at American University’s Bender Arena on Monday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Josh Needelman will be at a Maryland 3A state boys quarterfinals matchup between Potomac (Md.) and Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion Huntingtown. Tip off is at 6:30 and you can follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman for updates.