By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Entering his sophomore year, Aaron Miller thought he was a lock to make Sherando's varsity boys basketball team.
He felt he had put in more than enough hard work to earn a coveted spot on the squad. Sherando coach Garland Williams saw Miller's potential, but felt he would be better served playing on the JV team for at least part of the season, getting more confidence and playing time.
Two years later, the experience Miller gained on the JV squad showed and he helped lead the Warriors to a Northwestern District title.
"That was tough for him because he felt he should have been a varsity player," Williams said of Miller playing JV as a sophomore. "And we tried to explain to him what we were trying to do, and at the beginning that didn't sit well with him. But as he went on with that year he felt comfortable playing with those guys, and six or seven of those guys that he played with as sophomores were the same guys that he played with this year."
Miller, the 2012-13 Northern Virginia Daily's Boys Basketball Player of the Year, said even though he wasn't happy with the decision, he knew he just had to work harder.
This season Miller, who is a natural guard, was in another uncomfortable position. Williams had told him in the offseason they would need to use him more in the post because of a lack of size on the team.
So instead of being upset by the move, he embraced the position change and began working on getting stronger so that he could be more effective inside.
"I think I was most proud of when I was guarding big guys," Miller said. "I guarded big guys like [Handley's] Cameron [Jackson], Donte Grantham from Martinsburg, Kendell Smith and Christian Coles from Washington. I knew I was going to have to learn how to bang down with them. And I think I did a pretty good job."
Miller's ability to play inside the paint could help him at the next level. He has already verbally committed to play at Concord College next year.
Miller said it just felt like the right fit for him.
"The basketball team is outstanding," Miller said. "I love the coach -- coach Kent McBride. The players there, they really got along. I saw how much they really had fun on the court as well as off the court."
Current Sherando assistant coach and Sherando grad Brian Atkins also played at Concord, and was teammates with McBride.
Williams said Miller should do well in college.
"I feel as long as he keeps working hard, things will work out," Williams said.
Miller credited two people in particular with helping him improve his game -- Erick Green Sr. and Virginia Tech star and former Millbrook standout Erick Green Jr.
Miller has worked out with Erick Green Sr. through his business Erick Green Athletics since he was in eighth grade. Miller has also went one-on-one with Erick Green Jr. on numerous occasions over the last two years.
"You learn a lot working out and playing against him one-on-one, against who is now the leading scorer in the nation," Miller said of working with Green Jr. "You learn a lot from [Green Jr. and Green Sr.].
"Everything on that court you saw this season was from Erick Jr. and Erick Sr."
Miller averaged 19.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
One of Miller's biggest strengths is his shot, and that was on full display this season. He shot 52.4 percent (186 for 355) from the field and 40.8 percent (29 for 71) from 3-point range.
Miller also helped provide leadership to a Sherando squad that went 14-8 and won the Northwestern District regular-season title.
However, winning the title wasn't the highlight of the season for Miller. He said it was the win over Millbrook, in the second meeting between the two teams, that stood out the most for him.
The Warriors won the game, 69-67, on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Tanner Ruths. That play came just seconds after Miller hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
"It's 11 seconds left on the clock, coach Williams called the timeout and I told him going to our bench, 'I can make the shot,'" Miller said. "I said, 'Just give me the ball,' and he drew up a play for me and I hit it to tie the game. Then the next thing you know Tanner [Ruths] comes down and makes the game-winner. That was probably my favorite moment to have two key shots, two important game-winning shots in that game. And fighting back in the fourth quarter to go 6-0 in the district."
Miller said he's very proud of the time that he had at Sherando, and he hopes others can learn something from having watched him play.
"Playing 2 1/2 years of varsity I didn't score 1,000 points, I didn't break records or none of that," Miller said. "I was basically just trying to show other kids that are coming to this school and came and watched us play that you don't have to score 1,000 points, you don't have to break records, you don't have to win player of the year. All you gotta do is show people that you can play at the next level -- that's what it's all about."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org