Nate Miller has played basketball around the world since he graduated from South High School in 2005, but he’ll be playing closer to home this weekend with some of the best players to come out of Ohio State in the last decade.
Miller is playing with a group of Ohio State alumni in The Basketball Tournament, a national single-elimination event with a $2 million prize for the winning team.
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The Ohio State squad — dubbed The Scarlet and Gray — features Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger, Jon Diebler and William Buford among other former Buckeyes. Former standout Sconnie Penn is coaching the team, which plays its first game Saturday at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
“This team is full of pros who have got to the level they’re at for a reason, and I’m excited to help and do whatever’s asked of me,” Miller said. “I’m a veteran and am good at what I do, making the extra hustle plays and playing to the best of my ability.”
Miller graduated from Bowling Green in 2009 and has played professionally overseas for nine seasons, mostly in Israel. He lives in Pickerington with his wife Ashley and two children and has trained with most of The Scarlet and Gray’s players before.
“I’ve known most of these guys for years,” Miller said before a practice at Value City Arena on Thursday. “Ohio basketball is really connected, and we all train and play here (Ohio State).”
Miller started his college career at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington before transferring to Bowling Green, where he scored 1,133 points and averaged 7.1 rebounds from 2006 to 2009. He was a three-year starter at South and scored over 1,300 points. He played for two district champions (2002 and 2004) and one district runner-up (2005).
Miller, who’s 6-foot-4, was primarily a forward at South but transitioned to guard at Bowling Green. He’s primarily been a shooting guard in his professional career but has played all three guard spots. He said he’ll mostly play at guard for The Scarlet and Gray but could see time as a forward if the team opts for a “short and quick” lineup.
“That’s an asset that guys like myself have,” Miller said. “We can guard the 4-man because of the size and strength that we have, and because of our speed, at the other end they can’t really guard us.”
Miller played professionally in South Korea last year and said he’s weighing offers to play overseas again this year. Until then, he’ll try to help the Ohio State alumni win the tournament, which would earn him a share of the prize money.
“That’d go straight to the bank account,” Miller said. “Maybe that would pay for one of my kids’ college.”
Miller is a close friend of Springfield basketball coach Isaiah Carson and keeps tabs on the Wildcats.
“I go down there a lot, and I’ve worked out with the kids before,” Miller said. “I like to let them know it’s possible to make it out of Springfield.”
The Scarlet and Gray is the No. 2 seed in the tournament’s Midwest regional and will face No. 15 The Region at 3:15 on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The Basketball Tournament features 64 teams, and play is broken up into four regionals across the country. The top four teams in each regional advance to play in The Super 16 July 22-23 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The semifinals and final are from Aug. 1-3 in Brooklyn.
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