eymour’s Toriek Miller’s game has been a work in progress, and the senior is seeing the fruits of his labor.
His dedication to improving his game in the offseason helped him become one of the top basketball players in the Hoosier Hills Conference, as the conference coaches named him to the all-conference first team as a junior.
“My freshman and sophomore year, I wasn’t a very good offensive player, but I worked on that,” Miller said. “Defense is where my heart lies. Good defense leads to good offense.”
He continued to excel throughout this season and on Tuesday night became the 16th Seymour player in school history to reach 1,000 points.
Miller made two free throws in the second quarter against Floyd Central to move to 1,001, and finished with 16 points that night and 1,008 for his career.
“It shows I had great teammates to get me the ball,” he said. “They believed in me, and also the coaching staff believed in me and that really helped.
“Something we worked on as the season went on, trusting each other. If I wasn’t open I had confidence in them that they were going to knock down the shot or make the extra pass, make the right decision. I used my quickness to my advantage. I think my sophomore year I played more out of control, and I got better at using my quickness.”
Miller had a string of four straight games his junior year when he scored 26 or more points.
He had 26 against Bedford North Lawrence, South Ripley and Floyd Central, and 31 against Madison.
A number of opposing coaches said that Seymour was hard to play against because of Miller and his quickness.
Miller played sparingly his freshman year but scored 41 points in a limited role.
The first varsity game he scored in was against Cloverdale in the Eminence Holiday Tournament, when he tallied six points.
He averaged 9.4 points as a sophomore, 18.6 his junior year and 17.1 this year.
His career-high was scoring 35 against Jennings County at home in December, and he said his most memorable game was scoring 32 against Franklin at home his junior year.
“The win last year against Franklin (was big),” Miller said. “I think I played pretty well. We won 63-60 in overtime. That was a pretty good game for us.”
Miller said he felt comfortable playing the point and being able to dribble with either hand.
“You work on moves in the offseason,” he said. “When you get in a game you just feel that out and it comes naturally. I always loved a challenge. I’ve been playing against the best guys, and I think that’s great.”
Owls coach Kyle Clough said the work Miller puts in away from games has paid off.
“Toriek has been a guy that during the offseason has worked extremely hard,” Clough said. “He’s put time in with his ball-handling, he’s put time in with his shooting, but he’s also put time in learning how to be a complete scorer.
“The first year he was here he was a guy that depended solely dribble penetration in getting to the rim. I thought this offseason he spent a lot more time becoming a shooter, and any time you have the quickness that Toriek has, and the ability to shoot it like he does it’s a really tough guard.”
The scoring achievement means even more for Miller playing in Seymour’s system, Clough said.
“I think maybe the greatest thing you can say about his accomplishment of 1,000 points is he’s done it on a team that averaged about 50 points a game,” Clough said. “That’s really impressive to play as controlled of a tempo as we do, and for him to get over that 1,000-point mark certainly says a lot about his accomplishment.”
Miller has improved his leaping ability to aid his teammates in the rebounding game as well as gain enough confidence to dunk in games like he did against Austin. He said he dunked in practice and that gave him the confidence he needed to do it in a game.
“A lot of it is natural, God-given talent, but I also worked hard in the weight room on squats,” he said.
Clough said he could always count on Miller for energy.
“He’s a very explosive athlete,” Clough said. “He’s obviously a guy that can go up on the rim and draw fouls. I really think in the second half of this year he did a much better job of getting to the free-throw line a little bit and really establishing himself around the rim.
“He’s a guy, if you leave open, he’s a 45 percent 3-point shooter. We feel good about that too. I’m proud of him. I think he’s come a long way. It’s certainly a great accomplishment for him to be in that fraternity he’s in with the rich history of Seymour basketball. It’s certainly nice to see him leave his mark.”
Miller moved to Seymour from Flint, Michigan, prior to entering fifth grade.
That winter he played with the Brown School Bears, then at Seymour Middle School before moving up to Seymour High School.
He will sign to play basketball at Madonna University in Michigan on Monday.
1,000 point scorers from the Seymour boys basketball program
4;Danny Thomas Sr.;1,302
Toriek Miller’s top games
27;Salem, Floyd Central
26;South Ripley (twice), Jeffersonville, Scottsburg, Jennings County, Floyd Central, Bedford North Lawrence