Highly-touted freshman Adam Miller looks to bring shooting touch to Illinois

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Photo Courtesy of Adam Wolf's Twitter

Freshman Adam Wolf officials commits to the University of Illinois on May 3.

By Brandon Simberg, Staff Writer

The prize of Illinois’ 2020 recruiting class was 4-star guard Adam Miller. The Illini offered Miller back in 2016 and had pushed hard to get him, though Miller finally committed to Illinois in November 2019 before signing his letter of intent in April. After diving into film, there’s a reason the guard was so coveted.

Basic Info

Miller grew up in Peoria, Illinois, and spent his freshman season at Peoria Manual before transferring to Morgan Park High School in Chicago. He played his freshman season with current Illini Da’Monte Williams, then played his sophomore season with Ayo Dosunmu. Like Dosunmu and Williams, he’s a product of AAU club Mac Irvin Fire.

Miller, listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, was ranked as the No. 33 recruit according to 247Sports. He entered the 247Sports database in 2017 at No. 21, rose as high as No. 14, before finishing at No. 33. He is the No. 6 shooting guard in the country and No. 2 player in the state coming in as a freshman.

Scoring

Miller’s upside comes as a multidimensional scorer. At his best he can drill shots, attack the rim and convert from the midrange. He prefers to finish with his left hand but has good strength and verticality off one foot at the rim. Miller poured in multiple 40-point outings in high school last season.

Shooting

Shooting is the skill that could separate Miller from the pack of guards in the rotation. In the four games I saw, Miller shot under 30% from deep, but I’ve seen him play since he was a freshman in high school and he projects as a plus shooter at the next level. Miller can hit catch-and-shoot threes, though he also has the ability to hit pull-up threes.

Miller flashes his off-the-bounce shooting ability here, doing an excellent job at creating space, and his shot mechanics look good.

Shot selection is a trait Miller will have to improve on. At Morgan Park and with the Mac Irvin Fire, Miller got away with taking contested jumpers not in the flow of the offense. He certainly doesn’t lack confidence but sometimes has too much confidence and forces the issue.

Passing

When willing, Miller is a very good passer. He can get into the lane and occasionally sees the right read in the paint. His iffy shot-selection limits his passing, but with coaching that’s fixable.

Miller attacks the closeout here, using a quick first step to blow by his defender. He sees the opposing big step up, and instead of forcing a contested two, he drops the ball off for the assist. It’s hard not to imagine Kofi Cockburn slamming that home thunderously.

Ball-handling

Despite being 6-foot-3, Miller profiles as a shooting guard at the next level, and he consistently played off the ball in high school and AAU. He’s good at attacking closeouts and shifting direction in traffic but struggles to beat defenders one-on-one off the dribble.

Defense

Because Morgan Park and Mac Irvin Fire played a ton of zone defense, evaluating Miller on that end was a bit tricky. He’s got good length and speed, though, and should be able to defend both guard spots. When engaged, he was active in passing and driving lanes. In Brad Underwood’s system, his athleticism could lead to some high-end outcomes

Overview

Arguably the biggest loser of Dosunmu’s surprise return was Miller. If Dosunmu was out of the picture, Miller would step into the scoring two-guard role. But with Dosunmu back, 30 to 35 minutes vanish from the rotation, so the key for Miller will be to differentiate himself from other guards in the rotation. Trent Frazier provides game experience, shooting and defense, Da’Monte Williams will bring his defensive versatility to the table, while fellow freshman Andre Curbelo is a true point guard.

If Miller can go between 35 and 40% from behind the arc, it’ll be hard to keep him off the court. While Dosunmu handles the ball well, Miller can be a complementary shooter defenses must respect; three of the four guards, conceivably, could play together.

Expectations are high for Miller entering year one. He’s been on Illini fans radar for quite some time and will be expected to produce. The opportunity may not always be there, but Miller has the tools to help push Illinois over the top.

 

@BrandonSimberg

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