You know Sean Miller as the hottest coaching name in college basketball that just spurned Maryland to sign an extension as Arizona’s head man.
Here’s what don’t know Miller about Miller.
That he once appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in March of 1983 as a 14-year-old dribbling phenom, hamming it up with Carson and Ed McMahon in between dribbling, juggling and spinning the basketball.
And thanks to YouTube, there’s video proof:
Now 42 and still with the same baby face, Miller isn’t exactly proud of the clip. He seems to view his star turn as the equivalent of a mom breaking out the baby photos when your girlfriend comes over.
“If there’s one thing I can get rid of in life it would be that,” Miller told The Arizona Republic in 2009 after being hired as the Wildcats’ head coach. “I cannot stand when it’s on TV. I can’t stand when people ask me about it. I’ve been more polite until now, but because I’ve come to Arizona and because of the passion that surrounds this program, and maybe because we’re closer to L.A., that’s come up even more since I’ve been out here.
“For someone to keep bringing up something that happened 30 years ago, I need a free pass on that. Sometimes showing me as a player is deep enough, but when you go that far, I’m just not going down that path anymore.”
Even if he won’t, sports fans certainly will in the same way the Tiger Woods clip as a two-year old on “The Mike Douglas Show” is still routinely shown.
After all, Miller was a one-man traveling circus as a kid growing up outside Pittsburgh and the son legendary high school coach John Miller.
Dribbling the ball wherever he went as a child, Miller was booked for halftime shows, appeared on another TV show called “That’s Incredible!” and even had a role in a movie called, “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” starring his hero, Julius Erving. Miller was such a star that late UCLA head coach John Wooden even reportedly asked for an autograph.
And Miller’s success as a player didn’t end there. Many people forget the playing career he had at Pitt; Miller was the 1988 Big East Rookie of the Year who set the school record for career free throw percentage and assists – none more notable than his dish to Jerome Lane for what many consider the greatest dunk in college basketball history.
And now after leading Xavier to the 2008 Elite Eight and Arizona to the Elite Eight last season – plus only a 3-point buzzer-beater away from the Final Four and possibly a national championship, the super-intense coach known for his demonstrative facial expressions is now the hottest name in college basketball coaching, the equivalent of what Jim Harbaugh was in college football until bolting for the NFL last January.
Throw in constant speculation that Miller wants to eventually move back East and coach in his old conference, the Big East, or the ACC, and you can expect to hear his name come up anytime there’s an opening in one of those two conferences for the foreseeable future.
Throw in the seventh-best recruiting class in the nation that he just landed and a team that should be in the top 20 again next year and Miller is once again in the national spotlight.
But needless to say, don’t expect to see Miller chatting up Jay Leno anytime soon.