WINONA LAKE – To say that Greg Miller has had a great basketball career at Grace College would definitely be an understatement.
To say his impact off the court has been even greater would be right on.
The senior star for the Lancers is much more concerned with his contributions away from the game than his final statistic sheet.
Miller, an efficient 6-6 forward who hails from Akron, has left quite the mark on the Lancer program. He is just the eighth player in men’s history to score 1,000 points and have 1,000 rebounds. Miller currently has 1,817 points (13th in program history) and 1,034 rebounds (eighth) as he leads Grace into the NCCAA National Tournament this week at home.
The seventh-seeded Lancers, who are 18-14 on the season, will face No. 2 seed Colorado Christian (17-13) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round game of the eight-team NCCAA Championships in the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center. The tourney runs through March 22.
Miller, an All-American on the court and in the classroom, is the consummate student-athlete. He is nominated for the Pete Maravich Award, the highest honor given by the NCCAA for a combination of character and athletic achievement.
“Greg is just a well-rounded, genuine person,” said longtime Grace coach Jim Kessler. “He’s a quiet, steady leader for us. He’s one of my favorite players we’ve had here and we’re going to miss him.
“He is just a superb human being and a neat young man. He’s just great with kids. He spent the last two summers working with Urban Hope with kids in Philadelphia.”
Miller is also some player on the hardwood. Despite a torn ligament in the wrist on his shooting hand this season, he leads the Lancers in scoring (17.7), rebounding (9.6) and blocked shots (33). He is shooting 51 percent overall from the field, including 35 percent on 3-pointers, and 76 percent from the free throw line while playing an average of 34.5 minutes per game.
“When I saw Greg play as a sophomore in high school (Kessler was actually there to see his older brother Adam play), I knew he had the it factor,” explained Kessler. “He did everything.
“Greg is very versatile, very efficient and unselfish to a fault. He’s a great passer and his awareness at both ends of the court is phenomenal. He’s a multi-faceted offensive player, a polished stone. His teammates just love him.”
Miller, who played at North Miami High School, almost didn’t end up in his No. 33 Grace College jersey.
“I was all set to go to Wright State and their coach left to go to Auburn,” related Miller. “I had told all the other Division I programs who were recruiting me no. Coach K just kept knocking and calling every week.
“I had told my Dad as a sophomore in high school that I would not play at Grace. But, this is where I was led to be. This is the place for me. You walk into this gym and this is Indiana basketball. If I had it to do all over, this is where I would be. I have no regrets. I’ve been blessed.”
Miller admits he didn’t get off to an All-American start right away in his college career.
“I was so bad in our first open gyms when I came here,” admitted Miller honestly. “I was so lost at our first practice. But, within the first month I got comfortable. I came here expecting to win a national championship. That was my goal. I figured, individually, I would have a decent career.”
“Basketball is a game of angles and match ups. It’s about the small things. In a game of 1-on-1, I’m not going to win it. But, put me out there in match ups 5-on-5 and I feel I have an advantage.”
Miller also wants to make a lasting impact on young people through the game he loves.
“I want to be able to continue to help kids and impact their lives through basketball,” Miller said. “Being a role model to me is so much more important that anything I do on the basketball court.”
Miller gives plenty of credit to coach Kessler, the man who now has 697 wins in his 37th season at Grace.
“He’s been tremendous to me,” said Miller. “He’s pushed me and always been more concerned about me as a person than a player. We joke that coach K should be the Grace president. But, coach K is Grace College.”
Miller, who wants to go into coaching, is also looking forward to his final days of his brilliant college career in the gorgeous MOCC.
“I realize that I only have a few more practices here and only three more home games,” reflected Miller. “You can’t ask for any more than that.”
Just like Grace College can’t ask for any more than what Miller has given to their program.