Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Miles Looks Good

Took in a UConn 5-on-5 pick-up game today at Gampel. Nate Miles, Hasheem Thabeet, Jerome Dyson, Gavin Edwards and Donnel Beverly were among the participants.

It’s hard to gauge how players are doing in a setting like this where … well, let’s just say defense isn’t a priority. But this writer came away impressed with Miles.

We’ve heard plenty about Miles’ shooting ability, and he certainly boasts a feather-soft touch. But what impressed me more were his ballhandling skills and his ability to take the rock to the hole.

Miles played point guard for his team, matched up against Beverly. Though known as a wing, Miles says he’s played plenty of point in high school.

“I used to bring it down and shoot it,” he said with a smile. “I used to have to dribble through presses and all sorts of stuff.”

Of course, the Huskies have point guard covered. A.J. Price’s rehab is going better than expected (he’s now running, though only in straight lines), and McDonald’s All-America Kemba Walker is on his way. But in a pinch …

“We’ve got two really good point guards,” Miles noted, “but if I might have a mismatch or something, (coach Calhoun) will probably let me bring it down, or late in the (game), I don’t know. I feel like I can handle the point, though.”

Even more impressive was how effortlessly Miles glides to the basket. He made several nice slashes to the hoop for floaters and running jumpers during today’s pick-up

Also came away impressed with Miles’ personality. As has been well-chronicled, he’s been to five high schools in four years, and everyone wondered whether he and his spotty transcript would ever arrive at Storrs. But he’s here, and he seems to be a personable young man.

Seated with two of his “boys” – football players Gerrard Sheppard and Dwayne Gratz, both fellow incoming freshmen – Miles talked about his disappointment that Kobe Bryant and the Lakers didn’t win this year’s title, his respect for LeBron James but lack thereof for the rest of the Cavaliers team, and … well, we’ll just say his lack of respect for a certain other NBA team located not far from here.

He’s taking two classes (English and freshman orientation), lifting weights every day and running with his soon-to-be UConn teammates each afternoon. Most importantly, he’s enjoying life at UConn – a place some thought he’d never be.

“Everybody said I’m not going to make it here,” he said, “and now look where I am. I’m here.”

As far as the other players today, Beverly was perhaps the most impressive. One UConn assistant said that Beverly could be a real surprise this season, and watching him today, it’s apparent why. The sophomore-to-be looked much more athletic, at one time gliding in for an impressive fast-break dunk. Of course, with Price and Walker ahead of him, it’s hard to see how much PT Beverly gets at the point this season.

As for the others: Dyson, Thabeet and Edwards looked good enough, and it should be noted that walk-on Kyle Bailey looked good, replete with a two-handed fast-break stuff of his own.

Read tomorrow’s Register for more on Miles

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