One of the greatest scorers in the history of the Ocean Township High School boys basketball program has decided to take his talent to prep school.
Point guard Jack Miller, who scored 1,533 career points for second place on the Spartans’ list in four varsity seasons, will attend Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., about two hours north of Boston.
“I will be fine,” Miller said. “After attending Brewster for one season, I will look to attend either a high academic (NCAA) Division II or low Division I school to play. I feel it will be good to get another year under my belt at a prep school before I go to college. Taking an extra year before you go to college is pretty big.”
Miller trails only Mark Hlatky, who scored 1,661 career points, graduating in 1971. Miller, one of 13 Ocean boys players to net more than 1,000 career points, was unable to visit the New England school because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I did a virtual tour,” he said. “It has a nice campus.”
Miller will play point guard for the Bobcats of legendary coach Jason Smith, who has produced numerous Division I and NBA players.
“Brewster is one of the top prep schools in the nation,” Miller said. “It is the opportunity of a lifetime. Coach Smith is a great guy. He is real positive. He looks to help kids succeed. He is also the school’s admissions officer so he is on top of all of the academics of all of the kids. Brewster has produced a huge line of great athletes. Last year, 11 of its players went Division I from Kentucky to Quinnipiac. They do a great job of getting kids exposure.”
Miller, who plans to major in communications in college, said he chose the Bobcats over Stevenson of Maryland, Cabrini and Oswego State.
“I would have played at those schools,” the 6-footer said. “I will have to work on my speed and athleticism to succeed at the next level where it’s a whole different game. I will be playing with and competing against good athletes and big-sized kids. They will all be 6-2 and up most likely. Some guys will be 6-9 to seven feet tall … big time bigs.”
The 165-pound Miller said he knew of the school’s big time reputation.
“I knew it was a pretty big school so I said, ‘Why not?’ ” he said. “I emailed coach Smith some videos of my games, my GPA (grade point average) and my height and weight. He called me back. This is a pretty sweet deal. I received financial aid like most preps do.”
At this writing (June 30), Miller and Smith had yet to meet in person because of the pandemic.
“I am anxious to meet Jack,” Smith said. “I spoke to him on the phone and received nice recommendations from his teachers and coaches. Jack seems like an athlete who any coach would like to have in either his school or community.”
Smith said former Rutgers University men’s coach Mike Rice, who resides in Little Silver, has worked with Miller.
“I had a chance to speak with coach Rice, who worked with Jack on a number of occasions,” Smith said. “Mike raved about his attention to detail and his desire to get better. I have seen highlights of Jack’s games and it looks like he can shoot. Jack is looking for an opportunity to continue to grow and develop. He wants to take advantage of the opportunities our program will give him for exposure.
“Last fall, 112 Division I coaches were on our campus. Jack wants to see a bump in his level of college interest by going against stronger, quicker and more athletic players.”
Life is structured among the Bobcats. A strength and conditioning workout begins at 6 a.m. Classes run from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Individual and team workouts run from 3-6 p.m. Study hall runs from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
“We like to simulate what it will be like for the players when they get to college,” Smith said, “especially if they play at either the Division I, II or III levels.”
Smith, entering his 21st year at the helm, has led the Bobcats to seven national prep titles since 2010 (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020). During the last 14 seasons, the program has averaged more than 30 victories per year (432-67) for an 87 percent winning percentage. The program has advanced to the National Final Four Tournament 11 times since 2008.
A total of 17 ex-players have competed in the NBA while more than 50 others have played professionally in leagues around the world, including the NBA G League. Former standouts in the NBA are All-Star Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Will Barton (Denver), T.J. Warren (Indiana), Jakarr Sampson (Indiana), Jalen Lecque (Phoenix) and Jonah Bolden (Phoenix). Thomas Robinson was chosen fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft in 2012.
A total of 10 ex-players have been chosen in the NBA Draft since 2010. Since 2001, the program has sent more than 150 players to Division I schools, including Stanford, Georgetown, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan, Syracuse, Kentucky, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Brown, Princeton, Cornell, Harvard and Columbia.
“We have been fortunate,” Smith said. “We have had good kids who are motivated. They like to compete and get better. We have great kids and a great faculty. Everyone is very closely knit.”
Miller enjoyed a productive senior season despite suffering a high sprain to his left ankle, averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game. He paced the team in three-pointers made with 55 and steals (2.0) per game. He was second on the club in assists at 4.5 per game. He buried 86 of 102 free throws (84.3 percent). Miller set the school’s career record in three-pointers made (247). He put home a school single-season record 82 treys. He set the school record for treys made (nine) in a single game.
The injury cost Miller six games.
“It was a really bad sprain,” Miller said. “I recovered really fast for the type of injury I had. It was hard to sit out, really hard. I did what I had to do during my rehab program to keep my mind off it. The ankle feels great. Going back to play was tough as my vertical movements were limited. Jumping was the biggest thing I had to overcome.”
Miller, who played in 101 career games as a four-year starter, put home more shots from downtown than from two-point range.
“I was more of a scoring point guard,” he said. “I loved setting up my teammates in positions where they could score. Passing is probably one of my best skills, but I had to score. I like being a leader and an extension of the coach. I like passing more than scoring. I like to make nice pick and roll passes and get the team into transition. It’s what I did at the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union level with the East Coast Cyclones from his freshman through junior seasons).
“It was tough to go to the basket during the latter part of my senior year because I couldn’t elevate that much. I would drive and kick (pass) the ball to somebody. After I got hurt, I did not take a lot of twos. A lot of our plays were run for me to shoot. I wanted to get the ball to the other guys so they could score, but I had to hunker down with Corey (his brother) and Sam Meeks to put the team on our backs.”
Miller was a member of the Ocean chapter of the National Honor Society as a junior and senior. A member of the Ocean Class Officers Club, he was the treasurer of the senior class. He graduated during an in-person ceremony July 8.
Miller began playing basketball as a youngster.
“I have loved it since I was at a young age,” he said. “It has been my passion for pretty much my whole life. I love everything about it. At Ocean, I would like to be remembered as a kid who worked super hard and tried to make everyone better.”