OVERTIME: Miller opens new frontier for recruiting

BEN SIECK | Asst. Sports Editor

Butler men’s basketball coach Brandon Miller has big shoes to fill.

Miller follows an unprecedented level of success left behind by former head coach and current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Not only did Stevens help lead Butler to consecutive national championship games in 2010 and 2011—he went to the NCAA tournament five times in six years, won four regular-season Horizon League titles and compiled a career record of 166-49.

However, Miller can accomplish something that Stevens never did during his time at Butler.

As Butler’s coach, Stevens successfully recruited only one top-100 player—Kellen Dunham—according to ESPN.com

Miller hasn’t even coached a game yet, and he could potentially have two top-100 recruits coming in next season.

Miller received a commitment from Kelan Martin, a 6-foot-6-inch power forward from Louisville, Ky., last week. Butler is reported to be in the running for former UCLA recruit Trevon Bluiett.

Bluiett is a 6-foot-5-inch small forward from Indianapolis’ own Park Tudor. Blueitt had originally committed to UCLA this August but reopened his recruitment Oct. 4, citing the school’s distance from home as his motivation.

The Bulldogs pursued Blueitt in his original recruitment, and Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star reported that Butler is in the mix for Blueitt yet again.

The fact that Butler is even on these top players’ radar is a testament to what Stevens accomplished while at Butler. However, Miller is proving that he is no slouch either.

Getting high-profile recruits to commit to a school that just lost the most successful coach in its history is no small task, and Miller might do it twice over.

Basketball is one of the few collegiate sports where a top recruit or two can turn a program around—or in Butler’s case, keep the program from tailing off. Fans aren’t expecting Butler to become the next University of Kentucky, but seeing top-ranked recruits coming in should help ease the transition from Stevens to Miller.

The rational Butler fan will not be surprised by a rough season this year.

Miller is by no means in a win or go home scenario this season. However, if the team falls short of expectations over the next three or four years, Miller’s coaching seat will start to heat up.

If Miller continues to excel on the recruiting trail, then he shouldn’t have to worry about losing his job any time soon. Miller will benefit from the added talent of top recruits, and a coach who can recruit successfully will have an easier time selling the positive direction of a program.

No one knows for sure how the first-time coach Miller will do during in-game situations, but if his first few months on the job are any indication, the men’s basketball program is in good hands yet again.

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