One More Shot: Shonn Miller ’15 is Taking UConn To The Next Level
Former Cornell basketball player Shonn Miller, who is now playing his final year of athletic eligibility for the UConn Huskies, is excited for the new experience of being able “to play in front of really big crowds night in and night out.” On average, just over 2,000 fans attended each Cornell men’s basketball game last season. That number was over 10,000 at UConn. “Obviously, it’s a good team,” Miller says. “People here care a lot about basketball.”
Because he missed his entire junior season due to shoulder surgery, Miller only used three years of playing eligibility at Cornell. After his senior season, several elite Division I basketball programs recruited him to play as a graduate student. “I was really impressed by UConn’s coaching staff and the way they welcomed me on my visit, just how genuine they were, how they wanted me to fit in, and just really telling me what they saw me doing in the program,” Miller said.
Although Miller misses hanging out with his former Cornell teammates after practices and on trips to games, he is fitting in well with his new squad. “It’s a really outgoing group of guys,” he remarked. “They welcomed me with open arms, and I’ve only been here three or four months, but we’re pretty close already.”
Miller is also appreciative of the opportunity to play for Kevin Ollie, one of the most respected coaches in college basketball. “He’s really intense. Once you get between those lines, he has a lot of passion about what he’s doing,” Miller stated. “During the recruiting process I could tell, but it’s different seeing it in action.”
In his final season at Cornell, Miller did nearly everything for the Big Red, leading the team in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (8.5), blocks (1.8) and steals (1.2), while earning first-team All-Ivy honors. Even though he won’t have to carry as big of a burden for the Huskies, he will get significant playing time and may even start. He sees himself contributing most defensively and is trying to get into better shape, so he can become a dominant force on that side of the court.
However, the Huskies are also looking for a boost from Miller on the offensive end, where they were in the bottom half of the country last year in scoring. Miller was an efficient scorer last season for Cornell, concluding the year with a 43 percent field goal percentage, yet he struggled beyond the arc. Miller shot only 27 percent from the three-point line last year, so he is working hard to become a more consistent outside shooter.
The Huskies won the national championship in 2014, but were disappointing last season, in which they lost in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament. This year, UConn was ranked as the 24th best team in the nation in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll. On an improved Huskies team, Miller looks forward to the chance to play in the NCAA tournament, and his main goal for the season is simply to win. Although he never made it to the tournament with Cornell, being a captain for the Big Red last year gave him valuable leadership skills that he will carry over to his new team. “I have experience doing a lot of different things, so I just need to be ready to help other people, be a leader, and do whatever I need to do to win,” explained Miller.