Kings’ Quincy Miller no stranger to adversity

Quincy_Miller

Quincy Miller had little to gain, and everything to lose in his senior season at Weschester Country Day (High) School. He was already a five-star recruit who had committed to Baylor, and coasting the rest of the year was always an option.

Miller played hard for his teammates and for his love for the game, but it led to a left torn ACL while making a hard cut in December 2010. His doctor’s grim diagnosis still rings in his ears.

“That moment was just…I don’t know man, I was hurt,” Miller told Cowbell Kingdom on Tuesday. “That was just a tough moment for me, man. I remember that like it was yesterday.”

The youngster already had enough on his plate. Miller was still reeling from the death of his sister a few years earlier, and his future in basketball was now up in the air. Long, lonely rehab sessions ensued.

For three years, Miller didn’t feel the same. He showcased enough offensive punch at Baylor to earn Big 12 co-Freshman of the Year, but questions about his health and strength made him fall to the Denver Nuggets at 38th overall in the 2012 NBA draft.

Miller rode the bench most of his rookie season and spent stints with the D-League’s Iowa Energy. It wasn’t until December 2013 when the swingman realized he had overcome the injury.

“My second year, when I first got extended time in a game, I was like, ‘Man, I feel back to normal,’” Miller reflected. “And then towards the end of the year, you could see it in my game. And then in Summer League, it just took off.”

Injuries to the Nuggets roster helped clear a path for Miller, who started the last 12 games of the 2013-14 season with mixed results.

Despite his knee now being “1000 percent,” a solid summer and training camp performance couldn’t spare him from the waiver wire. On the eve of the current season, the Nuggets let him go.

Miller was once again at a crossroads, and drawing weak NBA interest, the prospect sucked in his ego and returned to the D-League.

Since joining the Reno Bighorns on December 12, Miller proceeded to lead the D-League with a 26.3 points per game average on 52.2 percent shooting in 19 games. His play forced the Kings to sign him to a 10-day contract on January 17, and another on January 30. Miller was nominated for the Futures All-Star team on Wednesday.

“I just took it as a blessing in disguise, which it was, because I got a lot of experience (in the D-League),” Miller noted of his Nuggets release. “I was there (in Reno) for about a month, but it was definitely an experience, and I’m appreciative for it.”

Back in the big leagues, Miller has made four appearances off the bench, totaling 53 minutes and averaging 3.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and a steal per contest. His 20 percent field goal percentage leaves more to be desired, but the 22-year-old has focused his energy behind the scenes, where he’s strived to round out his game.

“Blocking, rebounding, I’m getting way better at defense,” he quipped.

At 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds, Miller has drawn less-than-flattering comparisons to Donte Greene around Sacramento, but the forward was quick to kill the notion.

“I think I play like my own person,” Miller said. “Donte Greene can shoot well, but I think I get to the cup a little.”

Kings rookie big Eric Moreland believes Miller channels a young Tracy McGrady, who happens to be Miller’s childhood idol. Like McGrady, perhaps all the third-year pro needs is a little coaching. Miller’s drive to succeed and overcome the odds is fine as is.

Now halfway through his second 10-day deal, the Kings have until Monday to either sign Miller for the rest of the season or risk losing him as a free agent. Whatever the decision, “Q” is ready for the next challenge.

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About: Rui Thomas

Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.