Utah State captain, father to-be is set to lead on senior night despite injury

Utah State guard Brock Miller (22) drives to the basket as Colorado State ahead Adam Thistlewood (31) defends through the first half of an NCAA faculty basketball sport Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal by way of AP, Pool) (Eli Lucero, Related Press)

Estimated learn time: 8-9 minutes

LOGAN — Halfway via the second half of Utah State basketball’s 32-point win over New Orleans on Dec. 11, Aggies guard Sean Bairstow sliced his finger open and blood spewed onto the court docket.

Fellow guard Steven Ashworth grabbed a towel to wash it up, and a staff supervisor got here onto the ground to help. They appeared to have it taken care of, however as play was about to restart, senior guard Brock Miller observed extra drops of blood close to the free-throw line.

Motioning for a towel, Miller proceeded to splotch up the remaining drops. As he completed up, a chant reigned down from the coed sections.

“Mr. Clear! Mr. Clear”

Miller, whose signature look is a bald head with the headscarf, cherished it. He turned to the group, waved his arms within the air, and inspired the chants.

Quick ahead two months.

After lacking 14-straight video games resulting from an ongoing decrease again harm he sustained final season, Miller took the court docket on Tuesday night time towards New Mexico. He hasn’t performed because the Air Pressure sport on Dec. 29.

Six minutes into the second half, Miller hit a nook 3-ball and the group erupted. As Miller waved his arms towards the group, the mantra from December resurfaced.

“Mr. Clear! Mr. Clear!”

Miller smiled, and as soon as once more inspired the group.

Miller’s response to the mantra is an ideal illustration of his persona. The 25-year-old Sandy native has Alopecia, a illness the place all of the hair on his physique falls off. The mantra, a reference to the bald mascot of the cleansing model Mr. Clear, may have been seen as offensive to some. However to not Miller.

“I simply suppose that simply reveals the sort of nature this child has,” Utah State assistant coach Nate Dixon stated. “You understand, like, he is a straightforward going man who loves college students. He loves the followers. And he simply went with it. You understand, he may have been mad about it; he wasn’t mad about it. He had enjoyable with it.”

It has been a roller-coaster season for the Aggies, particularly in convention play. They misplaced 5 video games in a row in January after which gained 5 in a row. Then, they proceeded to lose 4 in a row.

However all through the season, Miller has been a continuing presence on the sidelines, regardless of not taking part in a big portion of it. The captain has persistently discovered methods to assist the staff, whether or not it is by displaying up on time to practices, sending out textual content messages to teammates or being within the huddles earlier than the sport.

“He is a frontrunner off the court docket. I imply, he is teaching, serving to these guys,” Dixon stated. “He is simply, , he brings much more that folks do not ever see.”

Miller has managed to assist maintain issues gentle, regardless of the back-and-forth season.

Whereas unable to apply, he’d beg the coaches to place him on the scout staff, saying, “I can go somewhat bit coach.” His teammates would dish it again to him. “Hey Mr. Clear man, you are gonna go get the ground.”

The jokes occur within the movie room, too. At all times sitting on the entrance row whereas the staff watches tape, Miller has a working joke about popcorn.

“I am going to go into movie and I am going to go, ‘hey, man, did you get your popcorn prepared,” Dixon stated. “He is like, ‘Dixon, are we gonna be in right here a very long time? Do I would like my popcorn immediately?'”

After somebody introduced popcorn to the staff following the win over New Mexico, he instructed placing it on the desk of head coach Ryan Odom — a fellow popcorn admirer — to see if anyone steals it.

“He retains it critical when it must be however he is an excellent keel,” Dixon stated. “You at all times know what you are going to get from the dude. He by no means had a foul day. It is inconceivable for Brock Miller to have a foul day.”

“You understand, he simply gives an depth, management that’s so essential for any staff,” Odom stated. “He means a ton to us.”

Miller’s worth is evident — even past his management. A four-year starter, he is a dependable perimeter defender and a harmful 3-point menace. He is persistently averaged simply over 8 factors per sport all through his profession.

This season Utah State has gone 10-5, together with a Quad 1 win over Oklahoma, the place Miller hit back-to-back 3-pointers to present the Aggies a late lead. Throughout the robust convention slate, by which Miller was out, the Aggies went simply 6-8.

Miller has handled three bulging discs, two fractures and “a pair” of tears in his decrease again. The harm wasn’t sufficient to finish Miller’s season, however the fixed ache has admittedly made issues tough.

“Your again impacts every part in your life,” Miller stated, whereas sitting within the acquainted entrance row of the movie room. “You do not notice how a lot you utilize it till you harm it.”

However not one to complain, the Brighton Excessive graduate stated his “degree of gratitude” towards the sport has grown as a result of he is needed to sit out. He is fast to thank the trainers and the college for offering assets to assist.

Miller appears to be a strolling instance of the Spanish phrase “Así es la vida,” which he could have heard on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina, throughout his church mission.

Instantly translated to English, the phrase means “That is life,” and extra not directly, it means “that is the way it goes.”

Sitting on the sideline in ache, Miller managed to drift.

“I would say that my perspective of life and sort of the place I used to be heading and stuff, it had stayed fairly degree, resulting from sort of what defines me as a human being,” Miller stated.

“Basketball has by no means been one thing that is outlined my life and who I’m as an individual,” he added. “I get pleasure from it lots; it is actually enjoyable. I really like taking part in. You understand, my perspective is at all times, put God first, household second.”

It is a wholesome perspective to have, particularly contemplating basketball is not the one essential factor taking place in Miller’s life. His spouse, Bailey, is pregnant with their first baby and he or she’s anticipated to present start to a child boy Wednesday.

A pregnant spouse and an injured husband has little question made for a busy winter for the Millers. However Miller admits he feels a combination of “nerves and “pleasure” about beginning a household.

“Clearly, there’s lots occurring,” Miller stated. “Nevertheless it hasn’t been tremendous tough due to how superb (Bailey) is as an individual and as a companion. She supported me each step of the way in which. And, clearly, , it is an thrilling time. … We’re excited for the chance to start out a household, it is one thing that we have at all times wished to do.”

However earlier than turning into a father to a boy who “already has a scholarship provide” in response to Odom, Miller has an enormous basketball sport to play in on Saturday night time towards Colorado State.

Miller, who technically has one 12 months of eligibility remaining resulting from COVID-19, will probably be honored on senior night time Saturday, in what might be his ultimate sport within the Spectrum.

If he’s carried out after this season, it will be the top of an period for a participant who’s the hyperlink to 4 completely different Aggies basketball generations.

Miller was recruited out of highschool by Stew Morrill — the winningest coach in Aggie historical past. However Morrill retired in 2015, so Miller performed beneath Tim Duryea his freshman season from 2017-18; Duryea was changed by Craig Smith in 2018. Miller performed beneath Smith from his redshirt freshman season via his junior 12 months. Now, following Smith’s departure to Utah, Miller is a senior beneath Odom.

“I have been a part of so many various groups and so many various issues that I’d say, , now it is sort of all come collectively this final season,” Miller stated. “My understanding is lots larger, I would say, from the place I used to be after I first began right here.

Miller has began 104 video games in his profession, seventh most in Aggies historical past. He is helped Utah State qualify for 3 NCAA Tournaments, win two Mountain West event championships and one regular-season championship.

Following senior night time at Colorado State, the Aggies go to San Jose State Friday. Then it is onto the Mountain West Match.

At 16-13 on the season, the Aggies will not safe an at-large bid to the NCAA Match, however they’ve sufficient expertise and high quality wins on the season that reveals they’re able to working the desk at their convention event and incomes an automated bid. Presently seventh within the convention — 52nd nationally within the KenPom.com rating — Utah State believes they’ll do it once more, and Miller is targeted on serving to his staff win.

“The one factor he is ever stated to me since day one, he stated to the opposite guys, for the staff is, I need one other ring,” Dixon stated.

It begins Saturday night time. A number of relations will come as much as watch Miller play at a college and in a metropolis and for a staff that each one “means a lot” to him. In the event that they’re fortunate, perhaps he’ll hit a number of 3-pointers, igniting a number of chants of “Mr. Clear!”

It doesn’t matter what finally occurs, Miller will probably be all proper. His “by no means too excessive, by no means too low” mantra has gotten him via 5 seasons of Aggies basketball. It is helped him via a crippling again harm, and it will assist him as he turns into a father within the coming days.

Basketball, like every part else, has its place.

“Once I go dwelling to my spouse and now my children quickly, it will be a factor of, after I go dwelling, I am dwelling,” Miller stated. “I am dwelling with the household and people stresses and issues will not translate to the way in which that I deal with them and the issues that I do and that I will be constant.”

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