Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs were two of the best graduate transfers available heading into this season, and head coach Kevin Ollie’s ability to land both players gave the Huskies a significant talent boost as they go for their fifth national championship.
Associate Sports Editor Dan Madigan got in touch with Adam Bronfin, a sophomore from Cornell who covered the Big Red’s basketball team last season for the Cornell Sun, for a first-hand look of what UConn fans should expect from Shonn Miller this season.
Dan Madigan: How did Shonn Miller end up at UConn?
Adam Bronfin: So the Ivy League doesn’t allow student-athletes to play as grad students. You can technically red-shirt, saving a year of athletic eligibility, but in order to take a fifth year, there also has to be academic reasons. In some cases student-athletes, withdraw from school when they get injured. Shonn injured his shoulder his junior year, but still graduated on time, forcing him to transfer.
Is there a player in the NBA with a similar skill set to Miller?
Probably got to go with Kawhi Leonard. Miller’s said a couple times that he tries to play like Leonard and it’s pretty accurate. He can’t drive as well as Leonard, though.
What are Miller’s biggest strengths?
His defense. Cornell has one of the best defenses in the Ivy League and Miller is a big reason why that happened. He plays solid help defense, but one-on-one is where he really starts to shine. He’d guard all kinds of players with Cornell.
He’s got a great combination of timing and length so he’s a great shot blocker. I think you saw a little of that in the exhibition game. He’s also one of the best defensive rebounders I’ve seen. He’s able to fly out of nowhere to grab rebounds over players. Again, that’s all timing and length.
What are his biggest weaknesses?
He’s not the best passer. Averaged under two per game with Cornell and doesn’t often see the right pass to make.
How did Coach Courtney utilize Miller in the offense last season?
Miller was the best player on the squad last year so he did have most of the offense involve him. Miller is great off the ball, so he had a number of plays drawn up for him that ended with an alley-oop or an open jumper. Miller also saw time in the post; he’s got a nice little hook shot and also loves to face you up and fake a jump shot and drive.
Miller did drift toward the three point arc maybe a little too much and sometimes would get a little complacent on offense and just catch and shoot, which is why his field goal percentage wasn’t great last year.
Is there one game or play that stands out from Miller’s career at Cornell?
Miller will tell you his best game was in the win against Harvard his senior year. It was the first victory against the Crimson since he got to Cornell. Harvard won the Ivy League during each of Miller’s seasons. He ended with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and he really played well down the stretch.
Miller doesn’t really show emotion during games (see Leonard, Kawhi), but in that game, when he nailed a jumper with not much time left that effectively put Harvard away, he pumped his fist and yelled “Yes!” to the crowd.
You’ve got a really talented guy. Shonn’s going to do big things at UConn and (maybe) beyond. I’m looking forward to watching him on TV.
Bronfin and the Cornell Sun sports department tweet about all things Cornell basketball @dailysunFCP.