Expectations are high for the Miller boys basketball team with all of the key players back from a 10-win team that had just one senior on the roster last season.
“We were very young last season. Though out the season, I thought that we started to show a little bit of toughness. We won several close games down the stretch,” Miller coach James Kleine said.
Devin Demster leads the returning players after leading Miller in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg). He also had 1.7 steals and 1.4 assists per game.
“Devin is very athletic for his size. At 6-foot-3, he is quicker than a lot of the big men that guard him, and he attacks the glass hard. He is able to attack the basket off the dribble against bigger guys, and post up deep against smaller ones,” Kleine said. “This year, I look for him to become a better leader, and a better decision maker. When he’s in foul trouble, he can’t help us. He has a chance to have a great senior year, both individually, and for our team.”
Sharp-shooting Presten Richardson is back for his junior year after averaging 12.6 points per game and knocking down 71 total three-pointers last year.
“Presten is one of the streakiest shooters that I have coached. Just having him on the floor spreads defenses out, and creates opportunities for others,” Kleine said. “This season, we look for Presten to be able to attack the basket better, and become a better defender.”
Joel Kleeman, Jeffrey Lung, Nick Johnson, Nielson Hadlock and Kaul Kleeman also return this season after seeing significant varsity time last year.
Joel Kleeman was the leader of that group averaging 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.
“He had a great freshman season,” Kleine said. “His is incredibly athletic, and very good attacking the basket, and great in transition. He really started to gain confidence at the end of the season last year. He had a great summer, and should help us on both ends of the floor. He has a chance to be one of the best players in our conference if he keeps working hard, and stays coachable.”
Juniors Parker Mhyre and Shaun Edwards along with freshman Kaleb Groesbeck will be new players to watch this year.
This group of players will give the Cardinals a deep team to lean on.
“Our biggest strength will be our depth. We won’t lose much when we go to our bench, even to our eighth, ninth, and tenth guys. We don’t have a lot of size, but we have several good athletes,” Kleine said.
Miller will also be a part of the new Southwest Conference this season that features a mix of former SRVC and Mid-Lakes schools.
“I like the new conference alignment. I believe that bringing in Marionville, Ash Grove, and Pleasant Hope will create a very competitive atmosphere night in and night out in our conference,” Kleine said.
Kleine expects this group to take a step forward this year with all the experience that returns this season.
“I expect us to take another big step in the right direction. We are still pretty young, with only one senior, and lots of sophomores and juniors will play varsity minutes. I believe that we should compete in every game that we play this season,” Kleine said.
Miller opens the season at the Marionville Tournament from Nov. 26 through Dec. 1.