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MEN’S BASKETBALL: From Neumann-Goretti to Temple, Hysier Miller Understands What It Means to be a Philadelphia Guard

By Cole Nowak. Photos: Zamani Feelings & Mike Nance, 03/22/22, 3:30PM EDT


Photos/Videos: Zamani Feelings, Mike Nance, John Knebels & Cole Nowak

By: Cole Nowak

PHILADELPHIA- When the 2021-2022 season kicked off for the Temple Owls, true freshman guard Hysier Miller was not involved with head coach Aaron McKie’s rotation. That would change as the season would progress and the Owls were plagued with the injury bug.

In Miller’s first 15 games of his collegiate career, he averaged 11.6 minutes a night while contributing 2.4 points per game to the Owl's stat sheet. On February 7 during an away game against South Florida, injuries to key backcourt members, Jeremiah Williams and Damian Dunn, would open the door for Miller at the starting point guard position.

“I never felt too much pressure. Even though it was extremely unfortunate what happened to Jeremiah, throughout my career I always expect to play a lot and to be a good guard. Once I got the opportunity to start, the coaches did a great job keeping the game plan simple and allowing me to do my job. I wanted to take care of the basketball, make good shot decisions, and getting our team into sets,” said Miller.

No added pressure seems evident.

Miller would start the final eight games of the season, averaging 32.3 minutes a game over that stretch, while dropping 9.5 ppg and three assists per game. Miller also would take care of the basketball and limit his turnovers to just over one per game during his starts.

Miller’s statistical production does not do his value justice. His intangibles were exactly what this Temple team needed, especially with all the unknowns that faced this club.

The Owls needed a leader at the helm and that is what Miller added to this lineup.

Temple University true-freshman guard, Hysier Miller - Photo by Zamani Feelings

Hysier Miller Freshman Highlights at Temple by Cole Nowak:

“I would say leadership. That was a piece as a team that we were missing a bit. I had to be more vocal and just come out of my comfort zone in order to be more open. I just feel my game really developed in terms of talking to my teammates,” said Miller, when talking about his biggest leap in terms of personal development this season.

If one had the opportunity to watch Temple in action this season, it was apparent the brand of basketball they play - they play Philadelphia basketball. One may ask what that means exactly, it means “gritty, hard-working, no excuses made basketball,” a message coach McKie tries to empathize, and one Miller showcases within his play.

“Philadelphia basketball means a lot. We need to represent well and there are so many guys who have come before me that influenced me to do better and be good. I take pride in keeping the tradition going and be a hard-nosed Philly guard and not taking anything from other players. The biggest thing that I feel Philly guards and players have with them is being a dog, night in and night out,” said Miller.

Miller’s former high school, Neumann-Goretti, sits 4.5 miles away from Temple University. A quick trip up Broad Street and you’ll find yourself at The Liacouras Center. Miller found success during his time at Neumann-Goretti, hoisting the 2020 Philadelphia Catholic League championship plaque after defeating Roman Catholic 66-58.

As a junior in high school, Miller recorded 17 points in the 2020 PCL title game, 24 points in the first round of the PIAA 3A playoffs against Brandywine Heights and an additional 13 points in the Saints second-round game vs. Holy Redeemer before their post-season run was cut short in the state quarterfinals due to the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Miller was a third-team 3A All-State selection as a junior and his superior play earned him the 2020-21 Pa. All-State Class 4A Player of the Year title to close out his senior season.

Miller played under head coach Carl Arrigale, who leads the league all-time with 12 PCL titles and an additional eight state titles to his name. This year, Arrigale and the Neumann-Goretti Saints have continued their winning tendencies, securing both the 2022 PCL title and are currently heading to Hershey, PA to play Quaker Valley in the 2022 PIAA 4A state championship this Thursday.

Hysier Miller cuts down the net at the Palestra as a junior, after winning the 2020 PCL Championship - PSD Photo by Mike Nance

As a junior at Neumann-Goretti, Miller won the PCL Championship. After the game, he talked about all of the HARD WORK it took LEADING up TO THE TITLE - PSD VIDEO by JOHN KNEBELS

In a previous interview with Philadelphia Sports Digest reporter Rich Flanagan, Arrigale stated that Miller was a prototypical Saints player.

“He was phenomenal as far as filling up the stat sheet. He was the consummate Neumann-Goretti player: he led on the court with his performance and by example. He’s a poster child for what we stand for,” said Arrigale.

The 6-foot-1 combo guard averaged 18.4 points, 10 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.9 steals in his senior season with the Saints and finished his career with 1,071 points. Miller has learned first-hand what excellence looks like through Arrigale and stated that his former coach shares a few key similarities with Temple’s McKie.

“Both of their number one goals are to win by any means necessary. It can be a different guy (who steps up) each night. They share the same idea of not caring who gets it done, but the fact that it gets done. They preach pushing the ball and sharing the ball. Furthermore, they both preach defense. On defense, they empathize on-ball pressure and not allowing a single man to have a big night against you. I feel like in all aspects defensively and offensively, they share similarities,” said Miller.

Coming out of high school, Miller had six offers to choose from. Those offers came with city and state competition, in the forms of Drexel University and Penn State University. Those schools did not feel like home, Temple did.

“After talking to coaches and being recruited over a couple of months, it just felt like home, and I felt a connection right away. It felt like somewhere where I was really wanted, more than just basketball, as a person too. I had a good relationship with the coaching staff, it just made sense for me and what I wanted to do. They (Temple) play tough defensively. All the things I see in myself, I see in Temple,” said Miller.

As a player, there is no better feeling than being at home and feeling comfortable in your given situation. It has allowed Miller to seamlessly fit into the lineup and make an instant impact on this Temple team. Temple plays a hard-nosed, stingy defense that will wreak havoc for 40 straight minutes, and Miller embodies that mantra.

The most impressive feat for Miller may have come as the season concluded for the Owls. Temple came up short on March 10 in Fort Worth, TX in the AAC quarterfinal, losing 69-60 to Tulane.

The feat that people thought was the most impressive was his career-high 21 points in the loss, the first time he has eclipsed the 20-point mark since his 23-point performance against Father Judge, while still at Neumann-Goretti.

As impressive as his on the court performance was, what happened after the game was even more impressive and telling of Miller’s character.

In the post-game press conference, Miller was asked a question about his frustration with his teammates being unable to hit shots and what it feels like when he is getting no help on the offensive end.

“Keep getting them the ball, they are going to make shots. They are my brothers and I believe in them. Sometimes they do not go in but stick to the game plan and keep getting them the ball. They are going to make shots when it counts. I do not get upset with my guys. When I make a mistake, they pick me up. So, I will do the same for them. When they do not perform well, it is nothing different. I will be there to pick them up and support them,” said Miller.

Hysier Miller recorded his collegiate career-high of 21 points in the Owls loss to Tulane in the AAC quarterfinals - Photo by Zamani Feelings

One can teach skill, but one cannot teach character. To have the poise, patience, leadership, and accountability at such a young age, especially after a frustrating loss, is an unbelievable sign for the Owls.

A guy like Miller is a culture changer. With his continued physical development mixed in with his emotional and mental skill, Miller is a player the Owls are looking at to make immense impact on the floor at 1776 North Broad Street in the years to come.