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TCU’s Mike Miles comes with high expectations

The freshman guard led TCU in scoring in their season opener Wednesday night

TCU Basketball vs Houston Baptist (11.25.20)
TCU Basketball vs Houston Baptist (11.25.20)
Melissa Triebwasser

When TCU stepped off the court on Wednesday night with a victory over Houston Baptist, Mike Miles wasn’t with them.

TCU’s leading scorer and assist-man on the night had already gone back to the locker room to address some body cramps he had been feeling throughout the second half of TCU’s 69-45 win.

“If I didn’t go out with cramps I would have played even better,” Miles said in an interview with media on Thursday. He was a full participant in TCU’s team activities that day, indicating that there’s not much to worry about regarding his availability moving forward.

His 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals in 21 minutes on Wednesday night showed Frog fans that he’s capable of contributing right away, and afterward Dixon emphasized that.

“He’s made good decisions as a freshman, came in with good feel for the game, played at a high level,” Dixon said in Wednesday’s postgame press conference, “We expect big things out of him.”

Miles was a four year starter at Lancaster and in his final season he led the Tigers to a 36-1 record and a berth in the state tournament. He was named 5A Player of the Year by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches after averaging over 21 points per game.

He picked TCU over Auburn, Butler, Oklahoma State, and several others.

“Big reason for me coming here was it is so close to home. I knew a lot of family and friends were going to want to come to games,” said Miles. But he also noted that the play-style was attractive to him too.

“They run a lot of pick and rolls, and as a point guard I love playing that way.”

He played effectively off the pick and roll on Wednesday night, getting into the lane and distributing to teammates on the wing as well as hitting a few floaters in traffic. Miles looked comfortable on the court all night. He has natural ball handling ability and great court vision.

Miles’ skillset translates well at the college level, and it appears (through a small sample size) like he’s going to be a major contributor from day one.

It hasn’t been a completely smooth transition to TCU though, thanks to the pandemic. Miles has had to work to get back into shape, something that both he and Dixon noted this week.

“I came in overweight because of quarantine, my body fat was too high,” Miles said, “I’m not going to tell you how much I weighed, but I got it down.”

“He’s another guy who came in and transformed his body,” Dixon noted on Wednesday. “He’s right at 195 where we want him to be.”

Beyond getting back into shape, Miles has also spent 60 days in quarantine over four different stretches, limiting his ability to practice. That he’s been able to lose weight and stay in shape in spite of that is a testament to his work ethic and maturity.

He earned a starting spot in week one largely due to that work ethic, and also because TCU Was without RJ Nembhard on Wednesday. When healthy RJ is not only a starter, but TCU’s unquestioned leader on the court.

All three players media spoke with after Wednesday’s game - Chuck O’Bannon, Kevin Easley, and Miles, said that RJ is the guy everyone follows.

“Even though he wasn’t playing he’s still our leader on the court and in the locker room,” Miles said, “Even [Wednesday] night....when I would come off the court RJ was talking to me, telling me what I’m doing good and what I need to do better.”

That type of leadership only helps young players like Miles, who understands what he needs to work on to improve.

“In high school I wasn’t known as a vocal person. Coach Dixon said I’m a point guard, I have to communicate better. I feel like I did a good job especially on defense. I did a good job but I’ll get better at it.”

We’ll get to see Miles’ continued ascension on Saturday evening, when TCU takes on Tulsa in Kansas City (6:30pm/ESPN+). Whether he starts again or plays in a reserve role if Nembhard returns, TCU fans shouldn’t miss an opportunity to watch Miles play.