Despite her numerous accolades — New Jersey Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Naismith All-American honorable mention, McDonald’s All American — beating her dad’s high school career points mark remains Diamond Miller’s proudest accomplishment.
In the late 1980s, Lance Miller broke Bridgewater High School’s scoring record with 2,112 points. In 2019, Diamond Miller broke Franklin (N.J.) High School’s record with 2,426 points, eclipsing her dad’s mark by 314.
“I was laughing in his face,” Miller said. “I said, ‘I told you I could do it.’ ”
Miller will bring that scoring ability and that laughter to Maryland as part of the Terps’ top-ranked recruiting class, as well as many other qualities that made her a five-star recruit and a member of Team USA’s under-19 roster this past summer.
Miller didn’t realize basketball could be her future until she received her first scholarship offer in eighth grade.
Before that visit to Villanova, Miller was just playing for fun. The offer confused her at first, she said, but once she understood what it meant and that basketball could pay for her education, she started to get serious.
Her dad said he was also excited when she received her first offer, but he made sure to remind her she still had a lot of work to do.
“That's just one letter, one offer, and a lot of time you've got to spend in the gym away from everybody to get more and to get better,” Lance Miller said.
Lance Miller, who played for Villanova, coached his two older daughters to Division I programs. Adreana, who played for LaSalle and Ohio State, and LaNiya, who played for Stony Brook, are the reasons Diamond Miller got into basketball.
They’re her inspiration and her best friends and have basketball legacies of their own. But, out of all of them, Lance Miller said Diamond has reached the highest level.
Before making the U19 roster, Miller already had national team experience from making the 2017 U16 national team roster for the FIBA Americas.
Miller’s competitiveness had driven her to try out just as a test to see how she would do against the best competition and criticism, so when they called her name, she was shocked.
That summer in Argentina, Miller said she learned a lot about basketball and a lot about why she is thankful to live in America. She and her teammates won gold and gained a “golden mentality.” She learned to compete hard, no matter what.
Miller also caught the interest of Maryland. Sometime during her sophomore year, an interest letter from the Terps arrived in the mail.
“I started screaming,” Miller said. “I was like, ‘Ahhh, Maryland! This is so cool!’ ”
Maryland coach Brenda Frese said Miller’s competitiveness and “fieriness” set her apart from other athletes. Frese and her coaching staff “fell in love with her right away.”
During Miller’s junior year, the Maryland basketball coaches took a trip to New Jersey for a home visit. They were sitting in the living room with her family when Miller came down and announced, “I’m done. I’m going to Maryland,” sending her parents and her future coaches into shock. No one expected her to make a verbal commitment right then and there, they said.
Miller became the second-biggest piece of Maryland’s recruiting class. A 6-foot-3 guard, she is ranked the 17th-best player in the Class of 2019 and fifth at her position by ESPN. She joins three other five-star recruits to make Maryland’s Class of 2019 its second straight ranked in the top five.
Sophomore guard Taylor Mikesell said her teammates are excited to get to know her better. But Miller’s arrival on campus was pushed back when she was told a spot opened up for her on the U19 World Cup team.
There were six alternates, and Miller said she didn’t know why she had been chosen.
The hard work that drew Frese might have caught the attention of the USA coaches, as well. The U19 coach Jeff Walz said, out of all the things about her, he was “really just impressed with how hard she plays.”
When Miller arrived in Colorado for training with the rest of the team, Walz said he could see she was excited to be there. She then played hard and fit in well, and she’s “all smiles.” He said he’s never seen her in a bad mood.
She played in every game but the championship for Team USA, averaging seven minutes and two points per game as the U.S. went 7-0 and beat Australia, 74-70, for the gold medal.
When faced with her never-flagging effort and fierce competitiveness, it’s easy to forget Miller is a fun-loving girl who loves Playa Bowls, Kevin Durant and scary movies.
“She’s a different person on the court than off the court,” Lance Miller said. “You forget sometimes she's a silly 18-year-old, but she reminds you of that off the court.”
Silliness aside, Miller will be game-ready when she steps onto the court at Xfinity Center for the team’s first regular season game Nov. 5 versus Wagner. Her national team experience will help her make an “immediate impact,” Frese said.
Miller said she won’t be happy with a traditional “freshman position,” which shouldn’t be a problem, according to Frese and Lance Miller. All she has to do, Lance Miller said, is realize it’s the same size court, same size hoop and slightly bigger girls.
“Once [she] realizes that, [she’ll] be ready to rock and roll,” Lance Miller said.