The expectation by many local hoops followers was for Daxter Miles to step into Dunbar's lineup this winter and establish himself as one of Baltimore City's top public school players.
Miles, who played two seasons at Archbishop Curley before transferring to Dunbar last spring, was a star for the Friars and would likely have been just as successful for the Poets. But his father, some friends and coaches suggested that he leave the city to play at IMG Academy in Sarasota, Fla. Just like that, Miles was on the move for his last two years of high school.
"I heard it's a good place to be. I had to see for myself," said Miles, who started school in September. "I looked up the website on the internet and took a big risk. I didn't know anything about IMG. I did some research about it, and major people, high-quality people come down here to train here."
The reasons for Miles' departure from Baltimore were simple. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound guard wanted to focus more on academics and get more exposure for his game. Miles said both goals have been accomplished so far.
"It's going to give me a better education and strengthen my brand," Miles said. "As far as exposure-wise, it definitely got me a lot of looks from colleges since I've been out here. Eventually, I felt like colleges would find me because I was working hard."
Miles wasn't exactly an unknown commodity before he got to IMG – although the Florida school has undoubtedly raised his profile. Playing for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer put him on the high-major radar. Miles teamed with Mount St. Joseph's Kameron Williams and Vermont Academy's Daquein McNeil to form one of the most effective guard trios on the 16-and-under Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit. All three Baltimore natives are high-major prospects.
"Playing with those guys, we're not selfish players," Miles said. "When Daquein's having a good game, we get the ball to him. If it was Kam, we get the ball to him. If it was me, I got the ball. … We're pretty close. I talk to Day-Day every three days. We definitely stay in touch. And Kam, we're still close."
Thanks to his play with Nike Baltimore Elite – and an impressive start to his junior season with IMG – Miles has received interest from numerous high- and mid-major schools, including Arkansas, Florida, George Mason, Illinois, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Nebraska, South Florida, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Washington and West Virginia.
Miles said he'd like to hear from Syracuse, but of the schools that are currently recruiting him, Maryland and Miami stand out. The East Baltimore native said he thinks the Terps are "about to offer."
"Maryland, they're doing their job as far as recruiting," Miles said. "They say they definitely need me. They need a guard that's got my potential."
"I mean that's showing you that they're really looking forward and they're trying to get you if the head coach gets involved," said Miles, who noted that Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg also called him recently.
Miles said he likes living in Florida, but admits that he misses living in Baltimore. His parents certainly wouldn't mind if he ended up back on the East Coast – be it at Maryland or somewhere else within driving distance.
"I just feel it in the air, the coldness of the weather," Miles said. "It just feels like home."
For now, Miles is 100 percent focused on his high school season. IMG Academy is 7-5, with Miles putting up approximately 29.5 points per game. Against Carolina Tech on Saturday, Miles said he scored 31 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed seven rebounds. With his reputation as a scoring point guard on the rise, Miles is pleased with his current situation.
"When I first came here I was thinking like, 'What am I doing? I don't know nobody down here,'" Miles recalled. "But when I got here, I saw the big picture. I came to reality really quick. This is the real world. If I want to make things happen in life, this is what I have to do now."