Former Glenelg Country standout eyes trip to March Madness, possible pro career
By David Driver
Howard County Times|
Jan 19, 2016 | 8:49 AM
After three years of basketball at Glenelg Country School, Isaiah Miles transferred for his senior year to Milford Mill in Baltimore County.
Then as a college player at Division I Saint Joseph's, where he saw little action as a freshman and sophomore, Miles' father, Eric, again brought up the notion of a possible transfer, which Miles shot down.
"He was adamant" about staying, said his mother, Tammi, of Owings Mills.
"I looked at [transferring] as quitting. I didn't want to do that," Miles said after playing in front of his parents Jan. 13 at George Mason.
Miles stayed the course in Philadelphia and now as a senior is one of the top players in the competitive Atlantic 10 Conference and could end up playing pro ball later this year, perhaps overseas.
"His sophomore year he was in the [playing] rotation early then I tightened things down" which meant less playing time, veteran Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "All of a sudden his junior year we really needed him because of his perimeter shooting and lack of experience returning" to the roster.
Miles averaged just three points per game as a sophomore as the Hawks advanced to the NCAA tournament, and then improved that to 10.7 per contest last season as a junior.
"It was hard," he said of his freshman season. "At times I would talk to my father [about transferring]. I just pushed through and waited for that opportunity. My freshman year I sat behind some really good guys. ... It was hard; you are coming from high school where you are the number one option" on offense.
He has stepped up his game this season as a 6-foot-7 senior forward, averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds in his first 16 games and marking a career-high 36 points. He credits part of his turn around to better health.
"I have lost 20 pounds since last year," Miles noted. "I jogged; I ran a lot. I tried to eat better. That was on my own."
Martelli, the Saint Joseph's coach since 1995, could also see the difference. So could Kevin Quinlan, his former coach at Glenelg Country, who has watched him play on television this season.
"All of a sudden in August the light came on," Martelli said. "He became more urgent. Here is a guy who waited his turn. He wanted to go out [as a senior] emptying his tank, so to speak."
The Hawks also feature junior forward DeAndré Bembry, who has been projected as the 41st overall pick in the NBA draft this spring by www.draftexpress.com. Now opponents have to worry about 6-6 Bembry and Miles – and perhaps much more.
"I am not certain how you deal with that," said George Mason coach Dave Paulsen, the former mentor at Bucknell of the Patriot League. "It is Miles; it is Bembry. You see guys coming off the bench playing well for them. If you think it is [just] Miles and Bembry you are doing yourself a disservice to the Saint Joseph's roster. This is a terrific team."
The Hawks improved to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Atlantic 10 with an 87-73 win at George Mason. Miles had 26 points and 10 rebounds in that game, as he remained the team leader in scoring, rebounds, blocks and three-pointers.
"I can move up and down the court faster. I can play more minutes," Miles said after playing all 40 minutes at George Mason.
Miles has kept in contact with several of his former college teammates, some of whom are now playing pro basketball overseas.
That includes former point guard Chris Wilson, now playing in Germany, and former Hawks post player Halil Kanacevic, now playing in Montenegro.
Miles said going overseas to play is on the table, though for now he is focused on the rest of the season.
Miles grew up across the street from Randallstown High and enrolled at Glenelg Country as a freshman, since his parents wanted him to attend a private school. His father played at Parkville and Woodlawn high schools and at Essex in community college before having knee problems.
"My teammates are looking for me and I'm just being in the right spot and getting my shot off," he said. "I feel like last year I was timid. I was not as consistent as I am this year. That goes with being a senior. This is my last year; I want to put it all out."