Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Can See For Miles and Miles ...

STORRS --- After five high schools and some five extra months of waiting, much-ballyhooed UConn recruit Nate Miles has finally been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

“I am so happy, you don’t understand,” Miles said on Thursday evening. “This might be the happiest day of my life.”

All that’s left for the 6-foot-7 wing to be popping in 3-pointers for the Huskies next fall is to get through UConn admissions.

“I see that as a formality,” said Miles’ guardian, Sean Patterson. “He went on an official visit, met with their admissions people. They saw what kind of kid he is.”

Miles also met with UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway during his visit late last week.

“It was great. I had a great time,” Miles said of the visit. “I was just so happy to be down there in that environment. I really enjoyed myself and felt at home.”

Miles will enroll in summer school at UConn, arriving on campus on Saturday, June 21 and starting classes on June 23.

Miles, 20, graduated from The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C. – his fifth different school in 4 ½ years – this past January. Once he had his diploma, the process of getting him through the NCAA Eligibility Center began, and both Miles, Patterson and UConn coach Jim Calhoun held out the slim hope that he could be suited up for the Huskies by the beginning of UConn’s second semester at the end of January.

That soon proved impossible, however, as NCAA officials needed a long time to sift through Miles’ unique transcript.

“When you go to different high schools, there’s different curriculum, different sets of accommodations for students, different grading standards, all sorts of things,” Patterson explained. “In his situation he had multiple schools, all for good reasons. They had to go back and find all sorts of paperwork, homework assignments, attendance records.”

Miles finally got the good news on Thursday evening by phone from a member of the UConn program.

Miles has been back in his native Toledo for the past few months. He also spent some time at the IMG Academy in the winter, trying to stay in basketball shape should he have been accepted at UConn for the spring semester.

While Miles – who, according to a source, scored about a 950 on his SAT – has clearly had academic issues, his ability on the basketball floor has never been questioned.

“Basketball is the least of my worries with Nate. He was born to play basketball,” said Patterson, who compares Miles’ smooth style and scoring ability to George Gervin’s, and his ballhandling abilities to Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis.

Miles said his strongest suit is his “will to win. I want to win, that’s what it’s all about. I’m going to try to do everything I can to help UConn win.”

Of course, the Huskies’ scholarship allotment of 13 is currently filled. Several things could happen to open one up – JUCO transfer Charles Okwandu has to get through summer school, for instance – but the most likely scenario appears to be sophomore forward Stanley Robinson leaving the program. Calhoun said last week that he is currently monitoring Robinson in the same way both Doug Wiggins and Curtis Kelly had been monitored. Both wound up transferring from the program for issues in the classroom and off the court.

“We’re pretty excited. We’re happy for Connecticut, for him,” said Patterson. “It’s been long process, but now that it’s over, we’re glad it’s done. All his past history of a tough life, he can use that as a positive.

“Now, it’s on him.”

Miles: 'The Happiest Day of My Life'

After some five months of waiting, Nate Miles has passed muster with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

"I am so happy, you don’t understand," Miles said, when reached by phone. "This might be the happiest day of my life. And the game’s on tonight, so now I can go watch Kobe.”

Miles will be enrolled in summer school at UConn on June 23.

"I’m just so happy right now, I can’t wait to get to school to get everything going," he said.

Miles went on an official visit to Storrs late last week and met with members of the UConn admissions office, as well as athletic director Jeff Hathaway.

"It was great. I had a great time, I was just so happy to be down there in that environment. I really enjoyed myself and felt at home."

Miles, a smooth, 6-foot-7 wing, said the best thing he'll bring to the UConn basketball program is "the will to win. I want to win, that’s what it’s all about. I’m going to try to do everything I can to win."

More to come ...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good Visit for Miles

Much-traveled recruit Nate Miles made an official visit to UConn late last week. The chief reason for the visit was for Miles to meet with UConn’s academic staff, as well as athletic director Jeff Hathaway. By all accounts, it was a good visit for Miles.

Miles attended six different high schools in four years and he has yet to pass muster with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The Huskies coaching staff believes Miles, who scored about a 950 on his SAT, will eventually get through. His toughest hurdle still figures to be being accepted by UConn.

If Miles is enrolled at Storrs by the fall, the Huskies will have to open up a scholarship for him. Currently, all 13 of UConn’s scholarships are taken. However, sophomore forward Stanley Robinson could eventually be a casualty, like Curtis Kelly and Doug Wiggins before him.

“We have Stanley on the same situation we had with Curtis and Dougie,” Calhoun said. “It’s a little bit of a different situation, but he’s got things to prove to us.”

When asked if Robinson’s problems were mainly academic, Calhoun said: “It’s the same total package we had with the other kids, where they (weren’t) doing the things that we want them to do.”

Both Kelly and Wiggins reportedly had issues showing up late to classes and tutorial sessions, as well as team functions.

Calhoun Cycles vs. Cancer

Although he turned 66 a month ago and recently had a cancerous mass removed from his neck, and temperatures were in the mid-90's, Jim Calhoun had every intention of bicycling the 50-mile route in Sunday’s Cigna Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride.

However, a tire problem and a wrong turn intervened, and the UConn men’s basketball coach wound up completing “only” 30 miles.

“I don’t have the wind I normally would have,” Calhoun said afterwards. “Last year after 50 (miles), I felt like I could have done 100. Today I did 30, I felt like I could do 30.”

Calhoun’s riding distance may have understandably decreased; more importantly, the second annual event increased nearly twofold and, in theory, should raise about twice as much money.

“That’s pretty special stuff,” Calhoun said.

Last year’s inaugural event drew about 300 riders and raised $233,000. This year’s event drew over 500 bikers. Since donations are still being accepted until Aug. 1, it’s not yet known how much money the event raised. But event organizer Peter Gold believes the total should end up being over $400,000, all of which will benefit the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as Coaches vs. Cancer.

“It went terrific, really well,” Gold said. “We had a big spurt in numbers over the first year.”

Calhoun started with the 50-mile bikers, but at one point encountered a problem when the wheel of his front tire and his brake came together. He and a group of riders who were with him went to fix the problem and took a wrong turn. But the time the tire was fixed, Calhoun didn’t want to take a chance of blowing out a tube and decided to head back to the finish line.

His recent announcement of a third bout with cancer made this event particularly special to Calhoun.

“A lot of riders came up to me, before the race, at a stop, (and said) ‘Go get ‘em Coach,’” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question that my recent situation caused a lot of people to wish me luck. It means an awful lot to me.”

UConn assistant coach Pat Sellers compete in the 10-mile race for one reason and one reason alone.

“To support Coach,” Sellers said.

Sellers, who rode the 25-mile course last year, did the 10-mile course this year because he had a commitment earlier in the morning. Ex-UConn star Donny Marshall also participated last year but is busy with his commentary work for the Boston Celtics right now.

TIRE TRACKS: Calhoun said that Andrew Bynum, who committed to UConn before backing out and entering the NBA Draft a few years ago, has inquired about participating in the Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball game on Aug. 9.

“I think I probably would (let him play),” Calhoun said. “He probably made the right decision. The more good players we can get, the better it is.”