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Alabama star Brandon Miller: ‘I want to be known as one of the all-time greats’

By newadmin / Published on Wednesday, 11 Jan 2023 15:19 PM / No Comments / 4 views

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The best freshman in college basketball resides in Tuscaloosa, and he’s powered the Alabama Crimson Tide to the No. 4 spot in the AP Top 25.

I’m talking about 6-foot-9, 200-pound Brandon Miller, who’s averaging 19.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and has most recently notched back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Among the five-star forward’s season highlights? A 24-and-9 performance in Portland against Michigan State, a 24-point, eight-rebound, five-assist game in a win over Memphis, a 36-point day against Gonzaga, and most recently, a 19-and-7 output in a blowout win over Kentucky.

Miller, ranked No. 14 in the 247 Sports recruiting class rankings, has shined against any and all competition. His combination of size, speed and shot-making is unmatched in the sport, and he will hear his name called by Adam Silver very early at the Barclays Center during the NBA Draft in June. Not only has Miller played at an elite level — take it from John Calipari and Tom Izzo — but his overall demeanor is beyond his years for a freshman.

We got a taste of that maturity this past week, as Miller sat down with FOX Sports for an exclusive Q&A. You’ll find out about his love for cars, a friendship he has with one of baseball’s best players, what he wants his legacy to be and much more.

Your father, Darrell, played tight end at Alabama in the early 1990s. What kind of influence has he had on your life and how cool is it to follow in his footsteps?  

I’ve gotten the question: Did I choose Alabama because he went here? I don’t think that was the reason why I chose Alabama at all. I chose Alabama for a whole other reason from why he chose to come here. Of course, he plays a big part in my decisions being my father. He’s been there for me every single day, behind me on all of my decisions. He played a part in all of the long conversations I had with coaches. There really was no, ‘hey I think you should go here.’ It was more of, ‘I’m with whatever you want to do.’

When did you fall in love with basketball?  

I grew up playing three sports since I was 3 years old. Basketball started in the kitchen on the refrigerator. I really didn’t have a basketball hoop outside where I was (in Nashville), and I wasn’t big enough to go outside then. But I remember dribbling the ball inside the house and throwing the ball against the wall.

What other sports did you play? 

Baseball and football. 

Was basketball your biggest passion? Did you toy with playing any of the other sports long term instead of hoops?  

I kind of toyed with it. At one point and time, I thought I was going to be a baseball player. But then I started growing and couldn’t really fit into anything anymore, so I thought basketball was the best way to go out right now.  

Do you still enjoy baseball?

I still like baseball. I love watching my boy Mookie Betts. He’s one of the best players in the league right now. He’s pretty good to watch. Do I still love it? It’s alright. I wouldn’t play it now because I think I’m in a better situation now than anything.  

Is Mookie Betts just your favorite player or do you actually know him? 

I actually know him. I see him a lot in Nashville, and we have a really tight bond being from around the same area.  

How often do you guys communicate?  

I mean, he does have his own things to worry about, but he watches games of mine. We’re in a group chat together, so he’ll text “good luck” or “good game” to me. 

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What made you fall in love with basketball?  

Well, what made me fall in love was the outcome that can possibly happen. Just, making it to the NBA. And, it’s not the goal to just make it to the NBA. I want to build my own career in the NBA. That’s the thing that motivates me. It motivates me to keep going and keep doing what I do now. I think people nowadays just congratulate themselves by making it to the league. I don’t think they want to necessarily build their career in the league. It’s all about making it to the league for them.  

What kind of drive does that take?  

A very hard drive. You’re working every day, and I love working. For me, it’s treatment every morning, then practice, then eating. I’d say that’s a good life to live.

What time do you wake up?  

If we have an 8:30 a.m. film session, I try to get here an hour before film to do treatment and get my body right. Then, eat breakfast here and go into film, have a snack. Then once I leave film, it’s right to basketball.

Then practice, and after practice?  

Some more treatment to recover the body, then some more food and another workout for myself to keep my shot perfected.

Are you doing an individual session like that every day?  

Yes, basically every day. If it’s not with a graduate assistant, it’s on the shooting gun. I want to keep my jump shot perfect (shooting 43% from both the field and 3-point line).

What did you see in Coach Oats and his staff that made you say you could be a one-and-done at Alabama?  

It was the bond Coach Oats made with me and my family. He came along early at the end of my freshman year of high school. That bond was established, and it also goes back to Coach (Bryan) Hodgson. Coach Hodgson put me along with the other coaches once I came on a visit, and since then, they’ve all been in contact.

What was different about Oats and his staff from others?

I feel like a lot of coaches, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all, but they get caught up in too much of their own stuff now rather than actually talking to the recruits. One thing Coach Oats did, he contacted me consistently. He went one week where he contacted me every day. That was the bond that we created.  

Was Alabama the first school to make contact with you?

My first contact was actually Tennessee State University, an HBCU. The coach there is Brian (Collins), he’s my cousin. We look past basketball now. It’s all family stuff now. I know I can go to him and talk about anything. I know he’ll always be there for me.

Why college basketball for you as opposed to G League Ignite or another developmental program?  

Well, I took a visit to the Ignite facilities (in Nevada) just to see how they operate out there, but I just felt like college was the best route for me to perfect my craft and get better.  

Why did you feel that way? 

Well I know at the G League, you’re living on your own. In the G League, you have more freedom. Here, I wouldn’t say you’re forced to do things, but here, you’ve got structure. We’ve got meal plans. I mean, they have meal plans in the G League, but I highly doubt they’re eating every two hours. (chuckles)

You’re eating every two hours? What are you eating? 

Well, it’s not always a full meal. It could just be a snack. Chick-Fil-A could be a meal, and today as I’m talking with you, we’ve got Popeyes. We’ve got chicken tenders, fries and chocolatecovered strawberries. I’m going to get some chocolate-covered strawberries after this interview. 

So, I’ve heard you really love cars. How did that start? 

I can’t even tell you where it started. One day I was watching YouTube and it just happened to pop up. I was like, man, I want one of these cars. And, what do you know? I started looking at other stuff. Then, engines and modifications got involved, and now I’m obsessed with cars — most muscle cars, not anything foreign. I’m driving a Dodge charger now, and I love it.

Going back to Nate Oats, what is he about? 

He’s all about us. Our whole coaching staff is about us. They don’t do anything that they feel like we couldn’t take. Of course, they coach us hard because it’s all love outside of basketball because that’s how our bond is outside of basketball. That translates to how we play on the court, so I mean, that’s really it. 

Who do you liken your game to?

Probably Indiana Pacers Paul George. I look at a ton of his film before his injury, and I hear that one a lot, too. But I don’t go off what I hear, I go off of what I study. 

How much do you picture Draft Day, and that dream coming true? 

Right now, I’m taking the slow process of one step at a time. I try not to look into the future that far, because I think it’s all about right now. Until that time comes, I want to appreciate and live in the moment. 

Someday down the road, when somebody’s talking about Brandon Miller, what do you want them to say? 

I don’t want to just be known as a player. Look at LeBron [James]. He’s not just a basketball player. He’s a person outside of basketball. I don’t just want to be a player. Of course, I want to be known as one of the all-time greats on the court. That’s just how I’m wired, and how I’m working to get there. 

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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