Florida State’s game Tuesday against the Charlotte 49ers at the Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla., isn’t a homecoming for Seminoles senior guard Ian Miller.
Instead, home is coming to him.
Miller, a former United Faith Christian star, leads Florida State (6-3) in scoring and is winding up a career that has seen as much disappointment and adversity as it has success.
Miller has played in every game this season and is the first backcourt player off the bench. He averages 14.6 points and 3.6 assists, both team bests.
For Miller, it’s about time.
“I’ve had to tough things out,” he said. “But I’m happy with how things are going now.”
Academic issues early in his career and a foot injury last season cost Miller lots of playing time in his first three seasons in Tallahassee.
Not that things were all bad though: as a sophomore, he hit a 3-pointer as time expired to beat Virginia as he established a reputation as one of the ACC’s top shooters.
But generally, Miller’s career has been more about what might have been – at least until now.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton. “He’s had some setbacks, but he’s come back stronger. It’s like he’s had a new lease on life.”
Miller is far past the academic issues – he’s on schedule to graduate next spring. And the foot injury that held him out of five games of his junior season – including a game against the 49ers in Charlotte – has fully healed.
“I had high expectations coming into last season and then I got hurt,” said Miller. “It was pretty depressing. I had to watch at practice to keep up with the little details of what was happening. But I think that made me stronger mentally.”
Miller also dropped 25 pounds off his 6-foot-3 frame over the summer – from 223 to 198 – and is now equally comfortable at the point or sliding over to the off-guard position.
Miller, known mostly as a scorer, has embraced playing point guard.
“Last year we asked him to give us some minutes at the point, but because of his injury he was never able to get the reps in practice for us to give us a true idea of how he’d play with his teammates,” said Hamilton. “He’s had time to work on that and he’s built that right type of chemistry.
“Now he can run the team with the kind of leadership we need. He understands what needs to be done in relation to what we have on the floor.”
Miller was an all-state player at United Faith and the Observer’s player of the year – twice.
One of Miller’s mentors is former Charlotte Hornets star Muggsy Bogues, who is now United Faith’s head coach.
The foot injury didn’t allow him to play last season when the Seminoles beat the 49ers 79-76 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“That was tough,” said Miller. “Being home and not being able to play, with your family and friends there. That was the worst feeling.”
Miller will be on the court Tuesday against the 49ers (7-2). When he returns to Charlotte in the offseason, he sometimes plays pickup games with 49ers guards Terrence Williams and Pierria Henry.
“They’re pretty cool guys,” said Miller. “But to me, this is just another game.”
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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