By Ken Hamwey, MetroWest Daily News
Matt Miller has been coaching boys and girls in the Millis youth basketball program for six years, but few probably realize the instruction they're receiving comes from a Hall of Fame player.
The 6-foot-6 forward scored 1,100 points in only 2½ seasons at Babson College where he also was a prolific rebounder. A second-team All-New England and All-Northeast selection as a senior in 1993, Miller was player of the year in the Constitutional Athletic Conference.
Two years ago, the college inducted Miller into its Hall of Fame, not only for his individual statistics, but also for leading the Beavers to three straight tourney appearances. During his tenure from 1991-93, Miller helped Babson become the top-ranked Division III team in New England and the No. 5 squad in the nation.
"Getting inducted was a humbling experience,'' the 42-year-old Miller said. "They were recognizing me for my overall skill-set and also for what our teams accomplished. All my teammates were on hand, players like Mark Regan from Medway and Scott Leip from Ashland. We all helped to put Babson on the map nationally.''
Miller was quick, and he used that attribute to slash and drive to the basket. He was an adept 3-point shooter who used a combination of finesse and an aggressive nature to score in the low post.
After a freshman year at Southeastern Mass. University where he played mostly as the Corsairs' sixth man, he transferred to Babson, primarily to focus on its business program. He averaged 12 points during his sophomore year, but blossomed in his final two campaigns. Miller averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as a junior. He hiked those numbers to 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and six assists in his senior year.
"My three best games came against Harvard, Bates and Tufts,'' Miller recalled. "We played Division I Harvard my junior year and we beat them by 20. I scored 20. I later had a 32-point game in an amazing battle against Bates. We were down by 24 at the half, but rallied to win by 12. Against Tufts, I scored 34 in a game that went into overtime.''
Miller, who has lived in Millis for 10 years, competed at Weymouth South in basketball and volleyball. Cut as a freshman hoopster, he bounced back as a sophomore and split time with the junior varsity and the varsity. A 6-foot-3 point guard as a junior, he averaged eight points and five assists. As a senior, his stats soared to 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
"I was an all-star in the Old Colony League and the Patriot Ledger,'' Miller noted. "I also got all-star notice as an outside hitter in volleyball. In basketball, we were 19-1 my senior year and ranked second in the state. We lost in the tourney to Duxbury and Bill Curley, who got a full ride to Boston College.''
An honor student, Miller found his niche at Babson. After graduating in 1993 with a degree in marketing and communications, Miller first worked in the mortgage industry and later as a technical recruiter. He's now a loan officer with Leader Bank in Needham.
Miller and his wife Stacey have three children - Abby, 10; Drew, 7; and Lucy, 4. His leisure time is devoted to coaching his children in the Millis youth basketball program. He's coached the MetroWest Travel League, the under-10 AAU girls team and now is coaching the Mass. Mavericks, a girls under-11 AAU squad. He also coaches a boys squad in a recreational League.
"I love coaching kids, but at the youth level you have to teach balance,'' Miller said. "Kids have to develop skills, compete and have fun. My philosophy as a player was to maximize my potential and always be prepared. Once I got onto the court, winning was very important but team success came first over individual statistics.''
Miller, who calls his role models his parents (Frank and Pat) for their support and encouragement, also admires the coaches he played for at Babson.
"Serge DeBari was my head coach and Steve Brennan was the assistant,'' Miller noted. "They both played major roles in my development and emergence.''
While at Babson, Miller competed in the collegiate Bay State Games. He scored 28 points in the title game and led his Southeast team to victory. He was a Division III player on a starting five comprised of Division I competitors.
Matt Miller could score, rebound and pass, making triple doubles a common occurrence. When he played at Babson, the Beavers compiled seasons of 20-8, 22-3 and 20-4.
His Hall of Fame induction two years ago was automatic. And, very deserving.