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Wes Miller Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2021 3:49 pm

Wes Miller Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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April 21, 2021 3:49 pm

Wes Miller came on The Drive with Josh to talk about what UNCG means to him, on the UNC job, and what he will miss the most. 

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Our next guest doesn't really need an introduction, but we'll give him one anyway. Been at UNCG the last 10 years. Just hired at Cincinnati.

You already know that though, it's Wes Miller. Kind enough to join us back in the Triad. Wes, congratulations on the new opportunity. You're not really much of an emotional guy. But when I was watching your press conference last week, I thought, goodness, he actually is really emotional right now. And it was specifically when you were talking about what the last 10 years have been like at UNCG.

How would you describe what that meant to you and specifically what this city, the city of Greensboro, means? Well, I don't think I can describe it, Josh. But what I'll say is when our athletic director here, John Cunningham, called me to offer me the job, that was a thrill. That was a moment I'll never forget.

And I was so incredibly excited. And I made a couple quick phone calls to my parents and Coach Williams and some other people. And then I walked out in the hall at UNCG from my office and it was the biggest swing of emotions that I think I've ever experienced. Because then it just, everything hit me real quick about, you know, as excited as I was, how difficult it was going to be to leave and to talk to these young people that came to UNCG to play for me and to talk to our former players that came to UNCG and played for us. Not only for the time they were there, but it stayed involved and connected and helped us build the program, you know, year after year. And then to think about what Greensboro means to me, which you asked, I don't think I can describe it, but I was born there since the first 10 years of my life there. You know, my dad's always been there, so it's always been home. And I've spent the overwhelming majority of my adult life there and that community has embraced me in the times that it wasn't easy, not just as a basketball coach, but just as a person.

And, you know, the warmth, it's almost impossible to put into words and all those emotions hit me at once and I was about as sad I think I've ever been in my life. So it's been a really strange windfall of emotions, but I also want to mention how excited I am. I mean, when I got up here and I walked in this arena for the first time, walked on this campus, I am truly excited for the next step and this next challenge. And I've always dreamed about coaching somewhere where it matters as much as it matters at Cincinnati and where there's so much tradition, there's so much pride. But as I look back at UNCG, I'm really proud that I think the 10 years that we were there, we created some more tradition, we created some more pride, we created some more interest. So there's a tremendous amount of pride looking back on what we accomplished in 10 years at UNCG. Wes Miller's with us here on Sports Hub Triad. I know you had intentions on staying because right after the season ended, the recruiting bared that out with the amount of guys who were staying, Koval for example, and John Newman who's now going to be playing for you at Cincinnati committing to UNCG.

But I also know what North Carolina means to you and how good of a fit Cincinnati is. You spoke about it in your press conference. So give me a sense.

Walk me through it. How would you characterize what the last three weeks have been like? It's been wild. You know, Josh, I was always very honest and open about my intentions the last three or four years. I was not ever looking to leave UNCG. I've always felt that as long as there was room for the program to keep growing, that we were never going to be stagnant or just be okay with where we were and that the university wanted the program to keep going. So that there was like leadership from the top, that I was really excited to be the coach at UNCG as long as I could. But that the one thing that I would consider is a place that was just different, that maybe moved me on the inside. It wouldn't be more money.

It wouldn't be the higher level league. That was never going to get me to just go to another job. And I had some opportunities over the years that I honestly didn't even take seriously that were significantly more money or perceived higher levels.

But I always said there's certain places out there that if they really moved me, I would consider. And I was very honest with every kid we recruited. Certainly people just know when you played at North Carolina and you care so much about the institution, you went to school and played at, that's that type of place.

And I think people always assumed that and people know that. And so to go through that process, even in a small way, that was like exhilarating. And that was a true honor to be considered. And I don't know how realistic it was or wasn't, but just to be considered for that job, that was an honor. And then after that was over, it was pretty clear that, hey, I have a great job. I'm so excited to continue to be the coach at UNCG.

And then this opportunity popped up and I do think I fit here, Josh. I think that this program is one where people really care and they care because of what's happened here generation after. It's not just that they've had one era of good basketball. I mean, this program has two national championships and final fours. And I mean, some of the greatest players that ever played the game, the history and tradition is just really special.

And this is the type of place that really moved me. But you mentioned the fit. You know, I think as I always thought about Cincinnati basketball from a distance, I thought about the toughness and the grit. Blue collar.

You know, the blue collar, the chip on your shoulder mentality. And I think people in Greensboro that really know me and we're close to our program, that's how we identified at UNCG. And that's how I've always identified in the game of basketball as a player and as a coach. So I do think, and I said this in my press conference, that people up here can get over my southern accent.

I think they'll find that I really identify here in this community, which I think identifies that way and also in this program. When talking about Carolina, I don't know if you're doing the modest thing that coaches and players often do, but we were talking to Bubba Cunningham last week, the day you got the job. And he was fired up for you and said he was so impressed with you during the process of interviewing you, you never felt like you had a chance to get that job? Well, you know, I think any time you're interviewing for a job, you know, with the people that are making the decisions, I think there's always a chance. But listen, I mean, you know, I knew that Hubert Davis was the right fit at the right time.

I knew that as a former Carolina player, I wanted it to be somebody in the Carolina family. And I knew there was a ton of people that, you know, that were ready for that opportunity and fit that job. So I never understood exactly where I stood in it, but I felt great about the opportunity and I gained a lot from that experience. And I'll tell you, it really helped me prepare for the interview process here. And it's just amazing, Josh, how life works out. You know, I mean, you know, you go through that and, you know, you think, OK, this solidifies my future here at UNCG and then this happens.

And so life's interesting. And listen, it's been a strange three weeks, as you mentioned, but I can't imagine things working out any better. It's Cincinnati coach Wes Miller with us here on Sports Hub Triad. What were your thoughts on UNCG choosing to hire Mike Jones rather than hiring one of your former assistants? Because that's something that seems to have stirred a couple of your former players up. Yeah, well, you know, first off, we were a really we were really like an intimate program at UNCG.

And I hope, you know, that's going to be the goal to be like that here at Cincinnati. But we were a really intimate program. And, you know, I think what we valued on an everyday basis was those relationships with the guys that we were coaching and the guys that we had coached. And that was an emphasis throughout the entire staff. And if you were in our program for a couple of years, you made that an emphasis when new guys walked through the door. And so we're a really tight knit bunch. And I hope that'll last forever.

That's certainly my intention. And so I think when you have those type of feelings and you have that type of pride, certainly, you know, I have some guys that were assistant coaches that I think are ready to be head coaches. I think they understood the culture that we'd established there at UNCG and were invested in that.

So certainly, you know, I was really supportive of that. And I think a lot of our former players and current players were as well. But I don't want to take away anything from the fact that Mike Jones is a great hire. You know, he's a terrific coach. I've coached against him and in all of our preparation coaching against him, I've been blown away with how well prepared his teams are, how well coached they are, the type of effort they play with.

And we had some great battles, two great battles against Radford with two of the better teams that I've ever coached. So I'm really impressed with Mike as a coach. But what matters to me even more than that is that I know a ton of people in the profession that are close with Mike. I know some of the guys that he's coached and some of the people that have worked for him. And everybody starts with how good of a person he is, how he truly cares for the people around him. And the main thing that I care, I care deeply about UNCG, Josh.

I think people that know me know that. And I want to see the program continue to grow and excel. And I know Mike is going to be able to continue to help the university and the program grow in the area of basketball. But he's also going to do it by looking out for not just the guys that he's coaching, but the guys that came before as well.

And that really does matter to me. So I am thrilled with the choice. Mike will be terrific. And I hope everybody in Greensboro really embraces him. And he'll do a great job.

Last thing for Wes Miller here. What are you most proud of, of what you've accomplished the last 10 years? You're going to try to make me emotional. You know I'm not emotional like that, at least publicly.

Just our guys. I'm really proud of that. Like the wins. Dang it, Josh, you're doing it. No, I'm really proud of him. And you start naming names and you leave people out.

But so I'm not going to do too much of that. But like Deontay Baldwin is from Greensboro. Like I know I'm not standing here without him. And there's a number of other guys that get into that.

So dang it, Josh, I'm never getting on your show again. You do this to me again. But those former players and what they've meant to me personally and watching them grow up. It's made my life have purpose. So that's what I think about. And that's what I'm proud of. We can hear it in your voice.

I'm sorry to make you emotional. Congratulations on getting the job, Wes. Thank you for everything you've done for us around here.

The first time you come to Greenville, America. I'm an ECU grad now. I'm going to be rooting for the Bearcats.

I'm going to be rooting for the Bearcats against the Pirates. And we'll be chatting, I'm sure, somewhere down the line. Thanks so much. Yeah, thanks for having me. There he is. That's Wes Miller. Not an emotional guy, but when he talks about his players, you can hear it. You can hear it in his voice, just like we heard there. Could Joe Buck be the next host of Jeopardy? Do we still like Joe Buck? We'll discuss that next on The Drive.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-12 05:08:32 / 2023-02-12 05:14:09 / 6

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