Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Among the most notable traits seemingly shared by all great point guards is vision.
A proficiency to see the court and find open teammates is a crucial element for a lead guard.
Perhaps the rarest and most valuable attribute in a standout point guard is the ability to look ahead.
That’s where Regina senior Masen Miller has been able to set himself apart.
While coaches praise the best point guards for being able to see a play or even a possession ahead of others Miller is often looking even further into the future.
“He’s always looking ahead at how teams will defend him and what he can do to prepare himself for that,” Regina coach Jared Galpin said. “His goals are to play basketball at the highest level that he can play and that’s the way you have to think. You have to prepare yourself for what you are going to see and what teams might want to do.”
That vision has turned Miller into one of the best point guards in the state.
Miller averaged a career-high 20.4 points per game a year ago and enters his final prep season as one of only 20 returning players in the state to average more than 20 points per game.
Even with that success Miller spent the offseason the same way he always does – looking ahead.
“Definitely as I got older and understood stuff more going into the offseason and I knew what I had to work on,” Miller explained. “I would look at maybe what I’d struggled with a little bit and then what I am going to need to do the next year based on how our team was going to look. I have always tried to expand what I could do to help our team.”
Looking ahead has helped Miller build on each of his past seasons.
A four-year starter, Miller averaged 8.4 points per game as a freshman and raised that to 11.9 as a sophomore.
His breakthrough came last season when he averaged 20.4 points while connecting on a state-leading 99 3-pointers.
The day after Regina had its season end with a loss to Boyden-Hull in the Class 2A state quarterfinals Miller was in the gym looking ahead to next season.
“We talked at the end of last season about how teams were going to try to guard him based on certain situations and tendencies that he has shown and he was in the gym a day after we lost our tournament game and he was already working out,” Galpin said. “That shows his mindset.”
As the scoring numbers for Miller have risen, naturally so too has the attention he receives from opponents.
That’s where the preparation for Miller comes up big.
He spent last season prepping for the junk defense and double teams he saw much of the year.
“I address it in my workouts by trying to put myself in certain situations,” Miller said. “Coach Galpin does a good job in practice of putting me in situations that will prepare me for anything a team might do.”
The workouts Miller mentions are daily during the offseason and run anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours.
Half of that is dedicated to ball handling and passing work the other half to shooting.
Miller is a career 43 percent shooting from 3-point range and has already made more than 200 career 3-pointers.
His 99 3-pointers last season rank as the fourth highest total for any player in the state since the 2006-2007 season.
“I would say a lot of it is just repetition in the gym and getting shots up,” Miller said. “Then credit to my teammates on the floor they get me open looks and they run our stuff well and execute and I get open looks.”
Miller has always been a deadly shooter from distance (he shot a career-best 44 percent from 3-point range as a freshman) but has worked hard each offseason to add elements to his game.
That long-range vision has facilitated his success.
First it was a pull-up game. Then a quicker release, then working off screens.
Anything Miller can add to his arsenal he works on in an attempt to stay a step ahead of opposing defenses.
“He works on the things that he thinks he needs to work on and improves the things that he is strong at right now,” Galpin said. “He knows that he’s not going to have much room to get a shot off, so what does he work on, he works on getting a shot off while being closely guarded. He works on those types of moves, getting his shot off faster, creating space things like that. And he just drills it and drills it and drills it.”
This offseason Miller worked on defense.
He’s also noticeably bigger adding some muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame in an attempt to improve on the career-high 4.5 rebounds he averaged per game last season.
“I’ve been in the weight room a lot,” Miller said. “We have a great strength training program at Regina so I’ve been there all summer and just trying to eat right and trying to get stronger, bigger and faster.”
Miller doesn’t just score. Far from it.
During his career the assist and rebound numbers for Miller have risen each season along with his scoring output.
“He knows that he is going to take a beating, teams are going to send two guys at him to try to make him get the ball out of his hands and make other players on our team beat them,” Galpin said. “But he is doing what he needs to do to make it so he can be successful. If he is successful it’s going to help our team.”
Regina went 20-3 last season, winning 15 straight games to reach the Class 2A state tournament for the first time since 2015.
As Miller looks ahead for his final season at Regina he has one final goal in sight, a return trip to the state tournament.
“We tried to set the tone last year by getting to state and playing in that atmosphere and hopefully that sets the precedent for this year that we want to get back there and do it again,” Miller said. “We want to get there and make a deep run than we did last year, last year we got a little taste of it and now we are trying to advance further than we did last year.”
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