By the end of the week, Nate Miller could barely talk. A week on the basketball court will wear out your knees and your lungs. A week on the court with dozens of kids tests the vocal chords, too.
“Can you hear my voice?” he said. “I’ve been talking a lot. Yelling at the kids. Yelling with the kids.”
The former South and Bowling Green basketball star, who recently signed a two-year extension to continue playing in Israel, is intent on giving back to his hometown. He hosted the Nate Miller 3D Basketball Camp for area kids last week. The Ds stand for discipline, dedication and determination.
Two former Buckeyes, Ivan Harris and Scoonie Penn, made appearances at the camp. Former South and Miami star Amanda Jackson, who has her own summer camp, helped out as well.
The week was capped off with an all-star game Friday night before a packed gym at Hayward Middle School.
Miller’s team of Dayton and Springfield all-stars, coached by his former high school teammate, Springfield head coach Isiah Carson, beat a team of Columbus-area players, 140-138, thanks in part to last-minute 3-pointers by Miller. Dayton Dunbar graduate and former Buckeye Daequan Cook, who played last season for the Chicago Bulls, secured the win with late free throws.
The game featured a number of familiar names, among them Ohio State sharpshooter Jon Diebler, who now plays in Turkey, former South and Wittenberg star Michael Cooper and Aaron Pogue, another Dunbar grad who played three years at Cleveland State and now plays in Romania. There were also pros from Colombia, the Netherlands and Germany.
Between quarters, Miller handed out awards to his campers, and the top two teams from the camp played a championship game at halftime. The stars were featured Friday, but the week was all about the kids.
“I see myself in them in this aspect,” Miller said. “I was definitely going through these camps when I was their age to get better at whatever they can get better at. I appreciate these kids coming out. I’ve been shown a lot of support from their families. The kids have been responding to what I have to say.”
Cook puts on his own camp at Dunbar and knows how important they are. He and Miller played against each other in AAU tournaments in high school.
“This is the type of stuff you’ve got to do to give back to your community,” Cook said. “It’s not always about giving back the dollar. The most important thing is showing your face and giving back to the kids who love this game, like (Miller) did. He’s doing a great job of it right now.”
Miller also hosted four clinics on Saturdays in June at Davey Moore and Mabra parks. He wishes he could have gotten more kids to those clinics, but this is just the beginning of what he hopes will became an annual tradition.
Count Miller’s former high school coach, Larry Ham, who coached the Columbus all-star team Friday, among those impressed.
“Anytime young people who’ve become established like Nate come back,” Ham said, “this is giving back big time. He’s not only doing his own thing here, but he’s working with Isiah with his camps and open gym.”