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 school basketball sport Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal by way of 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 crew 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 seen 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 scholar sections.
“Mr. Clear! Mr. Clear”
Miller, whose signature look is a bald head with the headscarf, liked it. He turned to the gang, waved his fingers within the air, and inspired the chants.
Quick ahead two months.
After lacking 14-straight video games as a consequence of an ongoing decrease again damage he sustained final season, Miller took the courtroom on Tuesday evening in opposition to 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 character. 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 enjoying a big portion of it. The captain has constantly discovered methods to help the crew, whether or not it is by displaying up on time to practices, sending out textual content messages to teammates or being within the huddles earlier than the sport.
“He is a frontrunner off the courtroom. I imply, he is teaching, serving to these guys,” Dixon mentioned. “He is simply, you already know, he brings much more that folks do not ever see.”
Miller has managed to assist maintain issues gentle, regardless of the back-and-forth season.
Whereas unable to observe, he’d beg the coaches to place him on the scout crew, saying, “I can go a bit 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. All the time sitting on the entrance row whereas the crew watches tape, Miller has a working joke about popcorn.
“I will go into movie and I will 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 want my popcorn at the moment?'”
After somebody introduced popcorn to the crew following the win over New Mexico, he prompt 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 fair 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 unimaginable for Brock Miller to have a nasty day.”
“You already know, he simply supplies an depth, management that’s so vital for any crew,” 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 constantly 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 provide the Aggies a late lead. In the course of the powerful convention slate, during 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 every thing in your life,” Miller mentioned, whereas sitting within the acquainted entrance row of the movie room. “You do not notice how a lot you utilize it till you harm it.”
However not one to complain, the Brighton Excessive graduate mentioned his “stage 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 could have heard on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina, throughout his church mission.
Immediately 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 might say that my perspective of life and sort of the place I used to be heading and stuff, it had stayed fairly stage, as a consequence 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 quite a bit; it is actually enjoyable. I like enjoying. 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 vital factor occurring in Miller’s life. His spouse, Bailey, is pregnant with their first baby and he or she’s anticipated to provide 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 quite a bit happening,” Miller mentioned. “Nevertheless it hasn’t been tremendous troublesome due to how superb (Bailey) is as an individual and as a accomplice. She supported me each step of the way in which. And, clearly, you already know, it is an thrilling time. … We’re excited for the chance to begin a household, it is one thing that we have at all times needed 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 in opposition to Colorado State.
Miller, who technically has one yr of eligibility remaining as a consequence of COVID-19, can be honored on senior evening Saturday, in what may very well be his closing sport within the Spectrum.
If he’s finished after this season, it’s going to be the top of an period for a participant who’s the hyperlink to 4 completely 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 beneath Tim Duryea his freshman season from 2017-18; Duryea was changed by Craig Smith in 2018. Miller performed beneath Smith from his redshirt freshman season by way of his junior yr. Now, following Smith’s departure to Utah, Miller is a senior beneath Odom.
“I have been a part of so many various groups and so many various issues that I might say, you already know, now it is sort of all come collectively this final season,” Miller mentioned. “My understanding is quite a bit larger, I might say, from the place I used to be once 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 event 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 Event.
At 16-13 on the season, the Aggies will not safe an at-large bid to the NCAA Event, however they’ve sufficient expertise and high quality wins on the season that exhibits they’re able to working the desk at their convention event and incomes an automated bid. Presently seventh within the convention — 52nd nationally within the KenPom.com rating — Utah State believes they’ll do it once more, and Miller is concentrated on serving to his crew win.
“The one factor he is ever mentioned to me since day one, he mentioned to the opposite guys, for the crew is, I need one other ring,” Dixon mentioned.
It begins Saturday evening. A number of members of the family will come as much as watch Miller play at a college and in a metropolis and for a crew that each one “means a lot” to him. In the event that they’re fortunate, possibly he’ll hit a number of 3-pointers, igniting a number of chants of “Mr. Clear!”
It doesn’t matter what in the end occurs, Miller can 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 every thing else, has its place.
“Once I go residence to my spouse and now my youngsters quickly, it’s going to be a factor of, once I go residence, I am residence,” Miller mentioned. “I am residence 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.”