Springfield’s Miller stays close to home, Commits to Illinois Wesleyan
With family and friends who attended Illinois State and others who live in the areas, Springfield High School senior guard Shane Miller feels more than comfortable in Bloomington.
This made his decision to attend and play basketball for Illinois Wesleyan a relatively easy decision.
“I’ve got some family that stay at Bloomington,” Miller said. “We always used to go up and see them. My brothers and friends also attended ISU. It just feels like the best fit for me. If something ever goes down, I’ve got people up there I can turn to, and [I can] also get a good education and also go [to] a good program.”
Miller has already scoped out places he plans to frequent; he was blown away by how much he liked the campus and family atmosphere shown to him on a visit. In our call Miller laughed, saying that he’d be likely spending a lot of time at the sandwich chain Potbelly.
The multi-sport athlete excelled in his own right in football as a junior. The 2019 season was his only playing organized football, but it was enough to warrant the interest of a few college coaches.
“When I found out I had a breakout season it was always in my mind, but I also had to go with my first love,” Miller said. “Yeah, I had offers and I told the coaches like, ‘Basketball is my first love, but I’d go play football if I had that right offer.’”
But Miller did not waver on Illinois Wesleyan, the first program whose coaches demonstrated a persistent interest and belief in him. Under coach Ron Rose, Illinois Wesleyan is a sparkling 263-129, with one shared and two outright conference championships.
“He (Rose) just wants me to come in and be me,” Miller said. “That’s one of the reasons why I picked them,” “He and (assistant coach Andy Etheridge) told me to come in and play my game. Yeah, playing time isn’t promised, but I know that with my skill set and the players I’ve got around me when I go there, I feel like I can come in there freshman year and make a huge impact. And the goal is, I told him from Day 1, I want to win a national championship. With coach Rose and coach Etheridge, they’re great coaches and I know with the program they have and they’re building, it’s possible to win that national championship.”
He’s started since about halfway through his freshman year, and has posted 1,109 career points through three varsity seasons. As a junior last season, Miller’s 17.8 points per game were second in the Central State 8. He added 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game to those totals.
Springfield coach Joby Crum lamented the tough recruiting cycle many athletes are going through with roster uncertainty coming with extended athletic eligibility. Per Crum, many DIII programs are swiping up athletes who may have gone DI, DII, or to strong junior colleges in other years. Crum said Miller’s experience fit that trend, and he expects the Senators senior to have an immediate impact in Bloomington.
“Shane is a steal at the DIII level, as he is a low DI or high DII player,” Crum said.
“Wesleyan has traditionally been a strong program, so I would expect Shane to help continue that and hope they assist his progress and he can graduate in four years, Crum added.”
Even while acknowledging how good of a fit Wesleyan was, Miller waited out the process that he said was full of “pros and cons.”
But without a winter season thus far — Springfield finished up its contact days in late October — Miller still had a tough time dealing with the recruiting process uncertainties.
“They (IW staff) just told me to be patient, other schools was going to come,” Miller said. “A lot of schools told me it’s hard for them to offer me because Illinois might not have a season while other states are, and they might choose those other kids just because they’re playing and they can see them more. There was pros and cons to the recruiting process but I felt like I have no regrets … I’m all in. I’m very happy with my decision.”
Organized basketball, his first love, has come at a premium during the pandemic, though he has found ways to stay on the court and in shape.
This coming weekend he’ll be playing in a Reebok-affiliated tournament in Paducah, Kentucky, with Central Illinois Select. He’s played with Illinois Hoop Stars the last year after playing with Illinois Phenom basketball before.
Miller also has access to resources that he’s grateful to have while being aware of his luck in having such things.
“I’m lucky enough to have a trainer that knows someone that has a private court at their house, so we’re always in there,” Miller said. “I have another guy, we get in and we run. He [has] open runs a lot so we’re doing workouts with him, and I’ve got a lifting coach I go with about twice or three times a week. I’m fairly in shape, I’m just lucky enough to have those people in my corner, because I know other kids around here don’t have that. “So I’m real grateful for it and I’m trying to take every advantage that I have.”