As far as Ryan Carpenter is concerned, there aren’t enough superlatives when describing Anna Miller.
The Rochester Mayo girls basketball coach sums her up this way: “She’s a coach’s dream. As good of a player as she is, she’s an even better person. She is a 4.0 (GPA) student, wants to go to school for pre-med, and is always one of the first ones to volunteer for anything. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
Here is another description of Miller — tall.
She’s listed at 6-feet-3, though Carpenter believes 6-4 is more like it. And she may not stop there. Her father, Chad Miller, is 6-8. Mom, Treva, is 5-9.
“Um, I think I’m probably done (growing),” Anna said. “At least maybe.”
What is definitely not done growing is her game. Miller, an all-Big Nine Conference choice last year when she averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks per game, has spent the last seven months working on things.
One of her primary goals was to stretch her offensive repertoire, particularly her shot.
Slender, long-armed, agile and unusually fast for her height — but no bruiser —Miller decided it was time to start doing some damage a good distance from the basket. So she headed to the Rochester Athletic Club day after day this summer and fall, stood at the 3-point arc and started firing away.
Miller is not ready to proclaim herself the next Steph Curry. But she can officially now do damage out there.
It’s one more reason that second-year coach Carpenter knows he doesn’t just have a special player on his hands, but a bonafide Division I college prospect.
He’s feeling lucky these days, just as he was when he first laid eyes on her last year.
“As a coach, you salivate over having a 6-4 athlete who can do so many different things,” Carpenter said.
Coaches also yearn for players who are massively dedicated to their sport. That also perfectly describes Miller.
Also an all-conference volleyball player, Miller has been playing basketball virtually non-stop since Mayo’s season ended last spring. She was part of an elite AAU team out of the Twin Cities, North Tartan.
There were times this summer when her parents had to remind themselves that she was still part of their family, she was gone so much with North Tartan.
“This summer, the most I was at our house was like two days in a row,” said Miller, whose team played the bulk of its games in the Twin Cities, but also made trips to Chicago and Virginia Beach, Va. “But I loved it. I love getting to compete against all of these really talented girls from around the country. I got better individually, and my team was really fun to be around. We were always together.”
Miller is also fond of the team she is on right now, at Mayo.
The Spartans got off to a rough start a year ago, losing their first five games. But they got things figured out after that and finished 16-10 overall.
Miller was right in the middle of that surge, getting things done as much defensively as offensively.
“Blocking shots, that is one of my favorite things,” she said. “When you block a shot, you take away opportunities for the other team and it changes the game. You do it enough times and it gets in the other team’s mind.”
Now, Carpenter’s wish is that Miller becomes just as assertive on the offensive end, to put any hesitancy away and to simply attack.
So far this season, he's liked what he's seen. That includes her occasionally doing her best Steph Curry imitation, and letting the ball go from deep.
“The skills have always been there for Anna,” Carpenter said. “But now she is being more assertive, making the correct read right away. She is going to be a tough matchup for other teams.”