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KERSHAW – Former Andrew Jackson High School basketball star Ryan Miller returned to his alma mater April 15 for a short, but important time.
Miller’s return centered on his future as the 6-5 Volunteers’ ace, who graduated in 2010 at the Lancaster County Class AA school, is returning to school.
Miller, with his mother, Patricia, and AJ school administrators and coaches watching, signed to play at Orangeburg Calhoun Prep Academy, a prep school.
The school, an off-shoot of Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, offers its athletes an opportunity to improve grade point averages and test scores while playing a sport.
The athletes who meet the academic requirements can then advance to a junior college or four-year school.
“I’m super excited for Ryan,” said AJ assistant basketball coach Alex Fair. “It’s been a year off and now he’s ready.
“I think that year off helped him,” Fair said. “He’s got his mind together now. Ryan’s had time to think about it and now he’s headed in the right direction. I hope his decision will send a message to our other athletes who want to go to the next level.”
Miller, a three-year starter for the Vols, capped his senior season in 2010 with a selection to the annual North-South All-Star basketball game at North Myrtle Beach High School.
The Class AA all-state honoree averaged 18.1 points and 11.4 rebounds in his final season.
Miller’s North team took a 113-104 loss to the South stars in a game, which was fast-paced from start to finish.
In 18 minutes of play, Miller scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds, seven on the defensive end.
“Ryan is one of the state’s best and most versatile players,” said Andrew Jackson basketball coach Dale Reeves. “He could handle the ball against the press and be a force inside.
“Ryan is unselfish and handles the ball well. He can play all five positions on the floor and do it well.”
Miller, the runner-up for Region IV-AA Player of the Year in his senior season, reaped all-region honors for the third straight season in 2010.
A three-time all-region pick, Miller averaged 15.1 and 8.7 rebounds a game for the Vols in his junior season.
He was also honored as The Lancaster News’ County Player of the Year for boys basketball, earning the honor for two consecutive seasons.
In his senior season, Miller earned Class AA all-state honors and was presented the team’s Best Defensive Award at the annual AJ all-sports banquet last May.
An ace receiver in football, Miller reaped the Vols’ Best Receiver Award for the 2009 Andrew Jackson High School season. Miller had 30 receptions for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
“Ryan’s been coming to the weight room and working hard, much more than he did when he was a student at Andrew Jackson,” Fair said. “I think this opportunity will be a stepping stone for him to the next level.”
Orangeburg Calhoun Prep Academy Director of Basketball Operations Cedric Simpson is glad Miller will be joining the Gladiators, who will be making their hoops debut with the 2011-2012 season.
“We are looking to get good kids and we’re very pleased to have Ryan,” Simpson said. “He gets after it and has a good mind for the game. I feel he will be a leader for us.”
Miller added he’s anxious for the opportunity.
“I missed playing and I’m glad for the opportunity,” Miller said. “I’m happy I’m going. After being away from school and basketball, this makes me want to go back to school.”
Reeves said he expects Miller to continue to play well.
“Ryan is a versatile, talented player who can contribute at any position on the court,” Reeves said. “He was our team leader. When we needed something, we turned to Ryan and he responded as expected.”