Ian Miller: “Promitheas are the first high-level team that allows me to be myself. I find it easy to play in the NBA.”
Ian Miller, a prominent Florida state official, had to be in his late twenties to make a name for himself in professional basketball.
Now, at the age of 29, he plays with Promitheas Patras, one of the best teams in the Eurocup. The Greek team reached the quarter-finals of the competition last season, which ended prematurely due to COVID-19. Miller leads the horde and collects 19.3 points in 36.7% three-point and 95.2% free throw shooting as well as 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Unfortunately, the action in Patras has been suspended since the club announced three positive COVID-19 tests on October 26th.
As a father of two, Miller dedicated his basketball trip to his father Julian, who died in 2015 while his son was on his first foreign mission, Italian second division club Aurora Jesi. Ian stayed in Italy for several years before moving to Kazakhstan, Turkey, Israel and France. Over time he improved his game without sacrificing his goal instincts.
His performances this season, including an impressive late-night tournament in the Greek Super Cup final that earned Promitheas their first ever trophy, have piqued the appetite of many teams across Europe, even China. The combo guard from Charlotte feels at home in his current team. trained by the sociable Makis Giatras. The Detroit Pistons gave him the chance to form their NBA squad in the summer of 2014 – and Miller responded with solid games – but the Euroleague and China are the more lucrative options at the time.
The first question I asked Ian Miller after six years abroad was the low number of interviews he did:“I was a little far from the media people“He admits to speaking to TalkBasket.net. “I like to concentrate on my job and perform. Even if you see me on TV, I won’t even look good speaking into the microphone. I just want to focus on the game. In the summer I would chill out with the family and not deal with any media. I don’t really answer the phone in the summer.“
Despite the above statement, the phone interview with the 6’2 ” security guard went quite smoothly.
Q: What about in Patras and Promitheas?
A: Everything is cool here. Greece is beautiful and I love the country. We now have a full roster and it’s better for us. Mantzaris and Nico (Radicevic) are great additions. They help the team find easy shots and generate insults and give us more depth with their experience. For now, they’re definitely doing the job.
Diante Garrett is very important and I think people have forgotten about him, but I’m ready for him to come back. That makes us one of the best teams in Europe. I think there are a lot of teams in the Eurocup that can compete with Euroleague clubs this year. There is much to be gained just because of the COVID situation and the wage cuts. Teams that normally dominate countries are not as dominant in their local leagues as they have been in the past. I know how talented my team and Diante are. We just have to be patient and wait for him to get better.
Question: “Before you came to Promitheas, you had no experience of European competitions.” How has Eurocup been for you so far?
A: Every night is a battle, there are no easy games. But all we want is a full list. I think we can do some things in the Eurocup that people didn’t expect of us. The goal is to win.
Q: Why did you sign with Promitheas last summer?
A: On the one hand, because they play in the Eurocup. Some friends had played for them before me and told me about the situation and the way the players are looked after. Langston Hall told me how professional the club is and gave him the opportunity to show his talent. I always wanted to have the chance not just to play in the Eurocup or the Euroleague, but to be myself. Players often get into bad situations where they don’t do as well as they can because they are not used to playing the way their coach wants them to. That was another reason I came to Promitheas. I’ve been in situations like this, but I can play in any system.
Q: Do you feel like you are taking over from Langston Hall in Promitheas?
A: I never really thought about it like that. I came here to write my own story.
Q: Then let’s talk about this story. Not being drafted in 2014 was a challenge for you? How did you deal with it?
A: I was ready to move on to the next situation. I’ve never given it bad thought, not at all. I stayed positive and trained again straight away.
Q: You actually joined the Pistons for the 2014 Summer League. How was the experience What did you learn?
A: I’ve learned that it’s easy for me in the NBA because there’s a lot of space and there are no shots from dribbling. I haven’t really learned much mentally. I just wanted to present myself and I did. I had really good performances and the teams definitely wanted me to come to the training camp, but I didn’t agree with that. Many people get stuck in the G League or in training camps and then don’t get good jobs in Europe. I wanted to go straight to a solid position and if the NBA wanted me they would come and get me. So I wouldn’t try another summer league. If I were in the NBA, I’d be a Patty Mills guy or Jason Terry guy. I saw them when I was in college.
Q: It’s interesting that all of the Detroit Pistons guards in this summer league (Peyton Siva, David Lighty, Markell Starks, DeAndre Liggins) are now in Europe, with only one notable exception. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued playing with Detroit and later became NBA champion with the Lakers. He was the youngest (21) player of all of you at the time. What do you think of his case?
A: He’s a killer! He’s accepted his role in LA, but real basketball players know Caldwell-Pope can make numbers easily.
Q: Stan Van Gundy was both president of basketball operations and head coach of the Pistons at the time. What feedback did you get from him?
A: Van Gundy loved me. He wanted me to go to the D League and play better point point, but I didn’t want to play there. He told me I was a great guard and that I would spend time talking to myself every day.
Q: Do you think you could have made an NBA roster? Are you going to pursue this goal?
A: Yes, I think I could play there if the opportunity presents itself again. But I don’t chase it because I have to deal with what I have on my plate right now.
Q: If you were offered a two-way contract, would you go to the NBA?
A: It depends on the team and the situation. If I feel like I have a chance to go there and prove myself, yes. When I’m not on the field, I can’t do what I’m supposed to do.
Q: If things don’t go that way, would Euroleague be your first choice?
A: It’s either Euroleague or China. They are even to me. Money is good on both levels, but I like the style of play in China. The game is more like the NBA style, up and down. Some of the best guards and scorers play there. It’s a five month season and I’ll be able to spend more time in the US with my kids. I just want to find the best situation for myself.
Q: What was the best situation for you?
A: In Patras and Kazakhstan. They made me show my skills; My trainer at the time was AEK’s trainer Ilias Papatheodorou. I had a good experience and feel for the Greek people after playing on a team with a Greek team and two Greek teammates (Leonidas Kasselakis and Dimitris Katsivelis). I like Promitheas because we work hard on the pitch, but our coach gives us the freedom to do better. He always teaches us and trusts that I will make mistakes.
Q: Two years ago, Rick Pitino compared Makis Giatras to Bob Huggins, West Virginia coach. Is this description correct?
A: I don’t know, I never played for Bob Huggins. But coach Makis is a good coach. He is energetic and gives you the opportunity to grow as an individual. Nothing is ever personal with him. Even when he’s serious, he’s always joking. It’s hard not to like a person like that. The only thing he likes to say in English is “good luck” before the games.
Q: You reportedly selected Florida State over many prestigious college programs such as Miami, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Why did you make this choice?
A: I felt like it was the best school for me at that time. They became a good basketball team too, and I wanted to be part of their growth. We won the first championship in school history. In the end, college shaped me because it helped me become a man, grow up quickly, and do things myself.
Q: What would you have liked to have done since dedicating your career to your father?
A: Win more championships, leave a legacy in every organization I play for, let people love me – not as a player, but as a person. That’s what my father wants from me. Being the best person was more important to him than basketball or any amount of money I could make.
Q: You grew up in Charlotte. There is a video of you training with KC Rivers and other players. How is the tire culture there?
A: KC is like a big brother to me. He likes lifting me in basketball. He helped me stay motivated because as an adult I wanted to be like him and other people. I’ve seen them leave college, play in the NBA or the Euroleague, like KC and a few others. My mind was always fixed on what these people were doing; and then I started to copy their movements.
Plus, Muggsy Bogues is like an uncle to me. He’s been there pretty much all my life since I was 4-5. Me and his son played on the same team (Charlotte Flames). Athletes and celebrities played for this program, which was run by my grandfather. Muggsy and I became best friends immediately. When I got to high school and he saw how serious I had become with the game, he started training me in the morning before class. At 6 a.m. we would be in the square. We stay in touch all the time. Whenever I struggle with anything in basketball or life, or have a question about it, I ask him. I know his story inside out.
Q: The late Michael Ojo, who passed away a few months ago, was a teammate of yours in the state of Florida. What do you remember about him?
A: That was my husband! We talked and hung out from the first day of school. You don’t meet such a person very often. You have to cherish the moments you spend with him because I don’t know if I’ll ever meet someone so gentle, honest and trustworthy. This is how you want to live your life. I don’t think he ever had a problem with anyone. It’s hard to find.
Q: You were voted sixth man of the year at the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference. How did you prepare to be the right man in Europe?
A: I was the sixth man of choice. My team couldn’t afford to start the game in my senior year. So it was best for me to get off the bank. It’s not really about starting, it’s about me playing the minutes that I should be playing at a high level. I liked Promitheas because they give me confidence and confidence. Kazakhstan, France and Greece are three situations in which I can be myself. Italy wasn’t for me. In Jesi there was too much going on between management and players.
Question: “Why did you start your professional career with an Italian second division team?”
A: I was supposed to go to the First Division, but they tried to sign me in early summer and I kept telling them that I wanted to go to the Summer League first. When I made up my mind, it was too late to sign with a good team.
Q: Do you feel more comfortable playing at point or shooting guard?
A: I’m a combo because I can get 6-7 assists anytime. I consider myself a guard.
Q: Do you consider yourself a clutch player?
A: I’d love to. Promitheas is the first high-level team that allows me to be myself, and part of that is being a clutch player.
Q: Who is the best team you’ve ever had?
A: Ousman Krubally and Ronald Lewis. They were two big brothers to me. I look up and talk to them almost every day. But I’ve never had bad teammates.
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