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With basketball career behind him, Miller looks to the Air Force

South Boston News
Will Miller / April 02, 2020
Many folks most likely remember South Boston’s Will Miller as a star basketball player for the Halifax County High School varsity basketball team.

Miller, who graduated from HCHS in 2016, flourished with the Comets in his four years on the varsity team before moving on to play Division 1 basketball for the VMI Keydets.

“So (I) played middle school basketball sixth, seventh and eighth grade; went over to the high school ninth grade and I started working out with the varsity team during the off season and then made their team as a ninth grader,” Miller said.

Miller said that basketball at HCHS was good for him because it was more than just basketball, it was about community. He said growing up in South Boston was a plus for him.

“It was a great experience,” Miller stated. “It’s a small town obviously, the only high school in the whole town and that’s an experience not a lot of people can get.

“To have a bunch of 5A schools (Halifax has since moved to Class-4) within a 10 mile radius, you don’t know everybody, yet you know everybody in the county and your parents know your teachers and you’ve grown up with everybody from kindergarten to senior year for the most part and from elementary school to the middle school.

“That’s an experience I enjoyed and (was) a really good way to grow up and develop.”

Miller made the leap to collegiate basketball after Virginia Military Institute came calling his junior season.

“The summer after my junior year in high school I played on an AAU team out of Richmond, Team Richmond,” Miller explained. “We did a couple of high school team commutes up to Virginia Tech and that’s when I first heard from VMI.

“Playing with the Halifax team and team camp, AAU stuff and they followed me throughout the summer and came to some high school basketball off season workouts in the fall before my senior season. And they offered me in October of my fall senior year and I ended up committing early — I did the fall early signing.

“So I signed early before the season then broke my elbow in the fifth game (senior season) against Martinsville and sat out the rest of the season until playoffs.”

Keydets Coach Dan Earl has helmed the VMI program for five season. Miller was part of Earl’s first recruiting class. Earl said that Miller represents all he could ask for in a student-athlete.

“He was essentially my first (recruiting) class, he’s part of it,” Earl said. “He did a tremendous job. We haven’t won as many games as I’d like certainly and we have challenges just like everybody does. And he’s kind of been instrumental in instilling the culture of what we’re all about.

“A tremendous young man, hardworking, extremely coachable, got in the gym, you know all the things that we want to do as a program. (A) high-character kid. So I certainly appreciate having him.

“Obviously that somewhat sounds like a cliché. We in general have great kids here at VMI, but there’s some kids maybe you don’t speak as highly about, but I truly believe Will Miller is an awesome young man. Great family, and again just does things the right way so I’m sure at times he wanted to win more games or play a little more or what have you, but he is what we are all about, the culture of our program at VMI.

“Couldn’t be happier to have coached him. I feel fortunate to coach him and will stay in touch as he continues on in the Air Force and then the working world.”

“VMI is a tough place to win,” Miller said. “You’ve gotta do a lot of extra, other activities that your normal college basketball player doesn’t have to do. It was a good experience, got to travel to a lot of places, play some high-major teams and play against a bunch of people you see got drafted in the NBA Draft.

“(I) played in some big arenas against some very good teams. The SOCON is a competitive conference for a mid-major obviously; met some really good players in our conference and played with some good players as well.

“I didn’t win many games and I didn’t score a lot of buckets but I look back on it and it was long, good four years of working towards something. Playing hard and working hard, lot of good times with teammates, lots of good memories.”

The COVID-19 virus didn’t interfere with VMI’s basketball season but as with other colleges and universities, students have been forced to resort to online classes with the spread of the pandemic — a first in school history. Miller is finishing out his senior year from his family home in South Boston.

“We played our conference tournament the first weekend of March and that was essentially one of the last weekends the NCAA was playing,” Miller said. “We were one of the few conferences that got ours in. It didn’t affect our season.

“So we’re doing online classes for the first time ever at VMI,” he continued. “I think the Service Academies and Senior Military Colleges are like the only schools in the country that have never done online classes to my knowledge, I might be wrong on that. But I think for the most part military schools and service academies don’t really favor online classes so it’s been a huge adjustment for VMI, the professors, the cadets, getting used to it and adjusting to that way of learning.”

Upon graduation Miller will be commissioned to the Air Force. He has chosen acquisitions as his career field. He says after graduating he must complete an operational assignment with the Air Force.

Miller noted that some of the events normally associated with graduation will not happen.

“I think we’ll finish up May 4 and then do not get to have a graduation and then our Joint Commissioning Ceremony for those seniors that are going into the Military will not happen,” Miller said. “Our ROTC department is going to do a smaller ceremony instead of a bigger one with all the others commissioning Air Force, so I’ll still commission in May, like May 15, it sounds like, but I don’t know ceremony-wise how it is going to go.

“I got acquisitions as my job and I have to do an operational assignment for I think four years in missile operations. I’ll start at Vandenburg Air Force Base in California for technical school first. And I’ll be there for at least six months and then I’ll end up in the midwest hopefully, I put Montana as my number one. The other choices were Wyoming, North Dakota. As of right now it seems like I’ll do that for three to three and a half years and then go back into acquisitions after I do my operational assignment.”

One of the biggest lesson learned for Miller at VMI has been time management. Miller said that having to wake up as early as he does now played a major role in that.

“I guess the first thing is getting up early,” Miller said. “Living at home, growing up five minutes from the middle school and high school I got to sleep a little more.”

As he finishes out his senior year from his home he’s excited about moving forward with his future. He also said the time he has at home now has been spent really just helping out around the house and catching up with old friends.

“Back in South Boston, helping my parents, doing online classes and then just waiting to figure out when I go to California,” Miller said of a normal day now for him. “Now that I’m done with basketball, I think I might take up piano,” he says with a laugh.

“(I) got a lot of extra time just cleaning up around the house and helping my dad out. Just kind of catching up with people you haven’t talked to in a while.”

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