Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Coming off the best season of his prep career as a sophomore Masen Miller knew he would be marked man this season.
As the only returning starter in the Regina lineup the junior point guard spent the summer bracing to be the focal point of every opponent’s defensive game plan.
“I knew in the summer that this stuff was coming,” Miller said. “I tried to work on creating space and drawing people and kicking to my teammates who I trust to hit shots.”
Eight games into the season the offseason preparation by has proved to be pivotal for Miller.
Despite facing double teams and defenses designed to stop him Miller is off to a staggering start for upstart Regina which is 6-2 despite a lineup full of new faces.
“No one has worked harder on their game individually than Masen,” Regina Galpin said. “We talked in the offseason about how much attention he was going to draw and how he had to take his game to the next level.”
With the top five scorers outside of Miller gone from last years’ 18-win team Galpin knew his junior point guard would have to up his production for the Regals to be successful this season.
Miller has taken his game up several levels as a junior.
He ranks 12th in Class 2A in scoring at 21.1 points per game and his 38 3-pointers are the most in 2A.
“I do think that I’ve taken my game to the next level,” Miller said. “During the offseason I worked on creating space and getting my shot and just getting looks off and then just shooting over and over and over until it’s just habit. I feel like I’ve taken it the next level.
Many players see their production plummet when becoming the focus of opponents’ defensive efforts.
Miller hasn’t just raised his offensive production this season he has been more efficient than ever while facing constant defenses designed to stop him.
The 21.1 points per game are a career-high for Miller and nearly 10 more than the 11.9 he averaged as a sophomore.
The 6-foot-1 guard is also shooting career-best percentages from the field and 3-point line this season.
“His offense has evolved,” Galpin said. “As a freshman and sophomore he was more comfortable as a spot shooter and he has that in his game but he is now able to put the ball on the floor. His pull up game is good, he’s getting to the rim, he has a nice floater, he can go right or left so it really doesn’t matter. He is a hard guard for teams even when they want to zone.”
Miller, who has scored at least 13 points in every game this season, already has six games with at least 20 points this season.
He poured in a season-high 28 and went 7-of-9 from 3-point range in a win over Bellevue in his 2018 finale.
Miller ranks eight in 2A in 3-point percentage among players with at least 30 attempts shooting 49.4 percent from beyond the arc and is shooting 51 percent from the floor.
Those numbers are extra impressive given the fact every team is intent on not letting Miller beat them.
“He has played so much basketball against really good competition that he has seen it all before,” Galpin said. “His decision making is so good. He has had games where he has 24 or 28 and he does it naturally he doesn’t force anything.”
Miller credits added strength from a summer in the weight room in helping him handle the rigors of the season.
That strength has also helped him in average career-highs in rebounds (4.9), assists (3) and steals (2) for a Regina team that enters the 2019 portion of the season a player in the River Valley Conference South Division and Class 2A.
“We are young and guys had to grow quick but I think a lot of our guys have adapted,” Miller said. “The young guys are working really hard in practice and it’s starting to show.”