When he was kid -- before he became a high school All-American at Charlotte’s United Faith School, an ACC basketball star at Florida State and a championship-winning European pro -- Ian Miller was a Charlotte kid who was motivated by going to the right type of summer basketball camp.
These were put on by his father, the late Julian Miller, and his godfather, longtime AAU coach Malcolm Sanders. Later, when Miller was playing in college and in the pros, he worked with former Charlotte Hornet great Muggsy Bogues to help Bogues run his two annually sold-out summer camps in Matthews.
Remembering how much he learned about basketball and life from those camps, Miller had always wanted to put on one of his one. His “Back To The Basics” skill academies run July 25-29 and Aug. 1-5 at the Ivory/Baker Rec Center, 1920 Stroud Park Court in west Charlotte. Miller has intentionally kept the price low -- $25 per day or $100 per week -- and has invited motivational speakers and NBA players to come spend time with the campers, who will be from 5 to 16 years old.
Campers will get free breakfast and lunch at the camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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“My dad would take 200 kids, girls and boys, to the mountains twice a summer,” Miller said. “We lived in cabins, spent time in devotion and chapel and had all sorts of fun. My godfather, Malcolm Sanders, had the Back to the Basics camp...and we spent all summer there. But to grow up and watch how they touched thousands of kids and helped so many of us get to where we are motivates me to help the community which is going through a lot. I’ve always been good with kids and worked camps, like Muggy Bogues’, where I could watch how to navigate and run my own show one day. And I think the time is right. Plus, the kids have been asking me.”
Miller started playing high school ball at South Mecklenburg, but became a household name and a top 40 national recruit while playing at United Faith, a private school in southeast Charlotte, where Bogues was then an assistant and later became head coach. Miller was a two-time high school All-American and a two-time Charlotte Observer player of the year in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Miller chose Florida State for college and averaged 13.7 points as a senior in the 2013-14 season. He was part of Florida State’s 2012 ACC championship team.
After college, Miller played professionally in Italy with Jesi, Torino and Verona. In 2015, Miller helped lead Torino to the Italian league championship. Miller made 4-of-6 3-point shots and had 18 points in the championship-deciding game. Eurobasket.com, which covers the league, named Miller the All-Italian LNP Gold league player of the year, guard of the year and import player of the year.
Recently, Miller left Italy to sign in Kazakhstan, a central Asian country of more than 17 million. He will play with Astana. He still makes his home in Charlotte. And Miller hopes his camp can have the same positive influence on some young kids that the camps he attended as a child had on him.
“We have free breakfast and lunch,” Miller said, “plus field trips, plus academic aspects. We are touching all the essentials of life, like our motto: ‘It Starts With Hoops.’ We’ll have guest speakers from different professions, but whom all started hoops. Maybe they earned a (college) scholarships or made connections (because of the sport). (We want to show the campers that) with whatever career they want to start into, they can have an instant resource. It’s way bigger than any sport, but you can the sport to get a jump start.”