Photo by Tina Lerohl
LOGAN – It seemed like Brock Miller played basketball at Utah State for nearly a decade. But maybe that’s because he was recruited by legendary Aggie coach Stew Morrill and his assistant Chris Jones (who’s son, Rylan now plays at Utah State), then went on a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, came back and found that Stew had stepped down and in his place was his long time assistant Tim Duryea. Brock played just one year for Coach Duryea before Duryea was let go, and in came Coach Craig Smith.
Two Mountain West Championship appearances, two NCAA Tournament appearances (technically a 3rd) later, Smith took the job at the University of Utah and for Brock’s final year, he played for Ryan Odom who left UMBC to come to Logan.
Usually, it’s players creating the maze and zig-zagging through it, but in this case Brock never moved, never flinched, held still. He wanted to be an Aggie lifer. Utah State was more than happy to oblige.
But now Brock will move on as he has announced his retirement from the game of basketball and he joined The Full Court Press on 106.9 the FAN to talk about what brought him to the decision, despite having one more year of eligibility.
“It was a tough process, obviously, but in my current situation with my health, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be physically,” Miller said. “Throughout the course of my career I have battled injuries, so it was an easy decision, physically, but mentally and emotionally it was tough because I’ve played basketball my whole life.”
The 6’5” Guard from Sandy, Utah who played his high school ball at Brighton High School, finished 8th in USU history in starts and 13th in games played at 118, also finished 5th in career 3-point field goals made (224) and 4th in 3-point field goals attempted. In the early part of his collegiate career Brock was healthy, but in the 2020-21 season, the day before their two-game series at Boise State, his back gave out.
“I couldn’t walk; I haven’t felt that much pain in a long time.”
The pain was so bad that Brock would have the trainer put his shoes and socks on. In fact, Brock would not practice, but then turn around and play in a live game averaging 28 minutes a game. Brock says he knew though his production would drop considerably he was able to help spread the court just being there.
“I probably shouldn’t have played, to be honest,” Miller said.
Despite the roller coaster 2021-22 season, Brock has seen his share of great success both individually and of course as a team. In 2018-19 Utah State won a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season championship, including a win vs 12th ranked Nevada in front of the seventh largest crowd in the Spectrum’s history. The Aggies finished MWC play with a seven game winning streak, including three games in three nights giving the Aggies their first basketball MWC Tournament Championship in school history.
“Nobody thought we had a chance. The only people who believed were those on the team and the coaches. It was really sweet to think about what we accomplished.”
Miller finished that night with six points, all from beyond the arc.
The following season, the Aggies repeated as Mountain West Tournament champs, with the title game being considered as one of the greatest Aggie Basketball games in school history: a 59-56 win thanks to Sam Merrill hitting a straightaway 3-pointer. But those post-season dreams all came to an abrupt end due to the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. Brock remembers the sorrow of that announcement.
“That was a tough moment. We were on our way to practice and we were thinking there was still a chance. And then we get a text right before we get to the locker room and it says ‘Season over. Meeting on the floor.’”
Miller said the team had full confidence they could have made a run in the NCAA tournament that year with all the talent, experience and momentum they developed that season, which made the cancellation announcement so bitter.
In 2020-21, Utah State would make their 3rd consecutive appearance in the MWC title game, and the 3rd year in a row they would face San Diego State. This time the Aztecs took care of business inside of an empty and quiet Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Aggies would still get an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, but eventually fell to the Texas Tech Raiders who wound up making it to the Final Four that year.
After the departure of Coach Smith, Ryan Odom brought his staff to Logan and Brock developed an appreciation for the new crew. But his back injury flared up again and Miller missed multiple games this season. The Aggie season ended with a loss to the Oregon Ducks in the National Invitational Tournament and Brock was able to see the floor for a brief moment late in the game and scored a bucket.
Brock Miller is okay moving on now, being a new dad helps that process. He is also partnering with some investors and starting an indoor golf facility in Logan. Brock has also been the head of an awareness campaign for alopecia, an auto-immune disease that causes hair loss and has affected him his whole life.
“I was thinking about my experiences as a youth growing up with alopecia,” Miller explained. “With how social media has evolved…it can be a nasty world out there for kids that are so-called ‘different.’ It’s just one of those things that a lot of people don’t know about.
“I decided to get on (Instagram) and create a page called Alopecia Family. I wanted to be that bridge to connect however many people, it doesn’t matter how many but as long as I can help them in anyway.”
When asked if he wanted to thank anyone, Brock had a list, including his wife, parents, teammates, coaches, and many more. What he may not know, is how much Aggie Nation should thank him. That list is probably longer.
You can hear the full interview with Brock Miller when he appeared on the Full Court Press on 106.9 The FAN here: