Girls Basketball: Miller twins are Hall-of-Fame bound
If Coco Miller has any regret about her and twin sister Kelly Miller’s dazzling high school basketball career at Rochester Mayo, it’s that she didn’t occasionally sit back and revel in the enormity of it.
Their five years as varsity starters included them being the most prized pieces on a pair of big-school state championship teams and the 5-foot-10 guards playing the game with the kind of speed, flamboyance and ferocity that the state had never seen before on the girls stage.
"As I look back on it, it was all worth it," said the 40-year-old Coco, who like Kelly works and resides in Rochester. "But at the time, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I should have. In retrospect, it was the journey that was so fun."
Now, some 25 years later, Coco and Kelly (who was not available for this story) will finally allow themselves to do some basking. That’ll happen today as the twins are being inducted into the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Marriott City Center Ballroom in Minneapolis. They are two of 15 being inducted.
"Being a part of the Minnesota Hall of Fame is extra special," said Coco, who like Kelly has received oodles of awards over the years, including them being co-winners of the James E. Sullivan Award in 1999, presented annually to the country’s top amateur athlete.
The Millers were star University of Georgia basketball players at the time where each was named all-Southeast Conference all four years as well as All-Americans.
They’d both go on to have long careers in the WNBA.
"Growing up in Minnesota, it was the best place to play basketball," said Coco, now a lab technician at Mayo Clinic. "The support we got was tremendous. Some of the best years we had were playing in Rochester, with so many amazing coaches and teammates. We couldn’t have done what we did without them."
WORK ETHIC GALORE
They also likely couldn’t have done it without their approach to basketball.
It was a relentless one, with no time for the smelling of roses that Coco now says she missed out on.
"Those two were doing things on the court that we hadn’t seen girls do before," said Les Cookman, the Millers’ head coach at Mayo their junior and senior years. "But what most people don’t understand was how much work they put in to get there. After our two-hour practices, they’d both stay an extra 20 minutes — every time — until they were dripping with sweat as they’d shoot and rebound. Their work ethic was unbelievable."
And it was that work ethic that they prided themselves on most.
Practices were serious matters, every time. And if teammates couldn’t be counted on to push them, the Miller twins always had each other. As closely connected as they were, they still hated losing to each other.
"We always wanted to be the hardest workers on the court," Coco said. "We took so much pride in our work ethic; we didn’t ever want to get outworked. Plus, we hated to lose. Losing felt almost like a death. And we pushed each other. I didn’t ever want Kelly finishing before me in a (sprinting) line drill. That (approach) helped us to get better."
But it wasn’t just work ethic that did it for the Miller twins, who finished their Mayo careers each having scored more than 2,000 points and dished out 500-plus assists. It was also a heavy dose of natural talent.
They were athletic enough to not only being among the country’s top high school basketball players but were ranked nationally in soccer and standouts on the tennis team.
"Their athletic ability was off the charts," Cookman said.
Combine uber athleticism with an uber drive and you have Coco and Kelly Miller, Hall of Famers.
Cookman says they were two in a million.
"They set the tone for girls basketball for many years," Cookman said. "Statewide, they were a phenomenon. As players, they were so much different than everyone else."
The Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame will induct 15 new members today in a ceremony at Marriott City Center Ballroom, including twin sisters Coco and Kelly Miller of Rochester. Here is the complete list:
When, where:The induction is from 4-6 p.m. today at the Marriott City Center Ballroom in Minneapolis. The inductees will also be introduced at halftime of the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers game tonight at Target Center.
Coaches inducted:Bob Brink, Rocori; Kenny Novak Jr., Hopkins; Ed Prohofsky, Minneapolis Marshall University; Mike Dreier, New London-Spicer.
Players inducted: Bob Bruggers, Danube; Norm Grow, Foley; Hal Haskins, Alexandria; Ronnie Henderson, Minneapolis Marshall; Tracy Henderson, Minneapolis Patrick Henry; Kris Humphries, Hopkins; Aileen Just, Rapidan; Coco Miller, Rochester Mayo; Kelly Miller, Rochester Mayo; Kelly Skalicky, Albany; Bob Zender, Edina.