Having led the UNC Pembroke men's basketball program to an unprecedented run of success over the last five years, Ben Miller embarks on his 25th year as a collegiate coach, and his eighth at the helm of the Braves, in 2015-16.
Since the conclusion of the 2009-10 campaign, the Braves have compiled a 97-55 (.638) record, including a 54-39 mark inside Peach Belt Conference play, and have tallied four winning seasons. UNCP earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 2010-11, but has since qualified for the postseason in 2012-13 and 2014-15 as well. The magical 2014-15 campaign - one that included school record marks for regular season victories (24), home wins (15) and PBC triumphs (15) - was highlighted by the Black & Gold grabbing a share of the PBC's East Division title.
The last five years has produced a handful of individual recognitions as well. Six players have been decorated with all-conference honors, three have gone on to secure all-district recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and another has been lauded with all-America honors. Five players have been added to UNCP’s 1,000-Points Club since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, while four have gone on to play professional basketball overseas.
UNCP's back-to-back-to-back winning seasons (18-12 in 2010-11, 17-12 in 2011-12, 22-10 in 2012-13) is the first time a UNCP squad has accomplished that task since the last three seasons of the NAIA era in Pembroke (1989-92).
No stranger to national attention under Miller’s watch, UNCP has been a regular in the NCAA statistical rankings over the last three years, including ranking as the nation’s 19th-best scoring offense (81.2 points/game) in 2012-13. The Braves have also been listed among the nation's best teams in rebounding margin and steals per game over the last three years as well. The 2014-15 squad became the first team in 24 years to finish among the top 25 teams in the final NABC national ranking.
The excitement surrounding the program has continued to build in the stands as well. The Braves have led the Peach Belt Conference in home attendance average in two of the last three seasons, and welcomed a league-best 21,621 fans through the turnstiles of the English E. Jones Center in 2014-15. UNCP's 102-91 victory over PBC Regular Season Champion USC Aiken in the 2013 regular season finale attracted a school record 3,045 fans, while its 91-68 victory over Francis Marion the following February brought more than 2,500 fans through the turnstiles of its home arena. More than 2,000 fans were in attendance to witness victories over Fayetteville State (2,015) and Flagler (2,473) last season.
Prior to his arrival at UNC Pembroke, Miller spent several seasons with some of the nation’s most elite head coaches, including a four-year stint (2004-08) as both an assistant coach and associate head coach for Missouri State where he helped lead the Bears to a cumulative 80-49 record, including a trio of postseason National Invitation Tournament appearances, under head coach Barry Hinson. During Miller’s time at Missouri State, they registered 22 wins in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while tallying a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2005-06 and a third place finish in the latter. Missouri State had an average RPI of 36 from 2005-2007 amd finished as high as No. 21 in 2006.
Prior to his stint at MSU, Miller served 10 seasons on the coaching staff at Kansas under Roy Williams and current head coach Bill Self. Miller joined the Jayhawk staff on a full time basis in 1995 after completing his doctorate in sport psychology at the University of Kansas. He was elevated to an assistant coach in 1998 when Matt Doherty departed Lawrence, Kan., to become head coach at Notre Dame.
Kansas appeared in 10 NCAA tournaments during Miller's time in Lawrence, including three Final Four appearances, two regional final (Elite Eight) showings and one Sweet 16 appearance. Along the way, the Jayhawks compiled a 258-59 win-loss record and won six Big 8/Big 12 titles and four conference tournament championships. During that same time frame, KU achieved nine listings in the final Top 25 polls, including six top five rankings.
During his 22-year coaching career, Miller has been involved in the grooming of 21 all-conference players and 32 academic all-conference honorees. Those numbers also include eight all-Americans, five conference players of the year and eight conference freshman/newcomer of the year laurels.
A basketball player and team captain at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Miller graduated from Luther in 1991 with BA in Psychology before graduating from Northern Iowa with a MA in Physical Education in 1992. Miller completed his PhD in Sport Psychology at the University of Kansas in 1995.
Miller and his wife, Heather, have two children, Charlie and Betsie. Heather is a native of New Mexico and is a Luther graduate as well. Miller is the son of long-time Division I head coach Eldon Miller who compiled a 568-419 record in his 36-year coaching career that included stops at Wittenberg (OH), Western Michigan, Ohio State and Northern Iowa.
“Ben Miller is one of the most confident, organized, and ethical people I have ever been around in my life. I think he has many strengths – his organizational skills and his people skills really jump out at you and the enthusiasm he has for the sport. The sincerity when he works with the players is always so evident. Ben is so much more a people person than he is just X’s and O’s… Ben Miller has just done a great, great job at UNC Pembroke and that is not surprising. His internal drive and passion will continue to be shown by their success. They will continue to set new records there at UNCP.”
- Roy Williams
Head Coach, North Carolina Tar Heels
"Ben is not only a great guy, but a terrific coach. The success they have had at UNC Pembroke, especially this past season, does not surprise anyone that has been around him or who has worked with him. I'm real excited for Ben and Heather and the family and I know he's excited about the program moving forward."
- Bill Self
Head Coach, Kansas Jayhawks
"Coach Miller had a tremendous impact on me as a young player at Kansas. He was always in my corner and would do anything to help me both on and off of the court. He put everything he had into our team. Coach Miller has character, passion, and resiliency. I'm lucky to have him as a friend."
- Nick Collison
Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
"I have known Ben Miller for the better part of a decade and am a big fan. He is a man of integrity and a go-getter. Ben is a great coach and the kind of person you want representing your school."
- Dave Telep
Senior College Basketball Recruiting Analyst, ESPN