Butler University's men's basketball program wasted no time in finding a replacement head coach for the NBA-bound Brad Stevens. The choice is a man who has experience as both a player and an assistant coach with the school.
Butler's official men's basketball Twitter account had the news that Brandon Miller will be the team's next head coach:
The University released a statement shortly after the tweet to confirm that the 2003 graduate would be taking the job, via ButlerSports.com:
Butler University has named Brandon Miller '03 as head coach of the school's men's basketball team. Miller, a former Butler point guard and assistant coach, replaces Brad Stevens, who left Butler to become head coach of the Boston Celtics.
Athletic director Barry Collier had this to say about the hiring in the release:
I am extremely pleased to announce that former Butler University men's basketball player and assistant coach Brandon Miller '03 has been appointed as head coach of the Butler men's basketball team, effective immediately.
I am confident that Brandon will carry on the Butler University basketball tradition of excellence, especially as we make the transition to the Big East Athletic Conference. As a player, assistant coach, and person, Brandon has exemplified the Butler Way and brings a blend of energy, talent and integrity to this role. With Brandon's leadership, Butler is well positioned to expand upon the success of the last few years.
The Butler basketball Twitter account posted this quote of gratitude from Miller once the news became official on Saturday:
In keeping with the Bulldogs' mold of hiring young head coaches, ESPN's Jeff Goodman was quick to point out some similarities between the incoming head coach and the exiting one:
Miller was a standout for the school for three years before working his way up the collegiate coaching ladder after graduation. He joined the Xavier staff as a video intern in 2003 and then moved with former head coach Thad Matta in that role to Ohio State the next year.
The 34-year-old then had stints at his alma mater as an assistant and then again at Ohio State before spending last season as a special assistant to John Groce at Illinois. He was hired again as a Stevens assistant in April, well before whispers of Stevens moving to the Boston Celtics were imminent in Indianapolis.
USA Today's Zak Keefer and David Woods reported earlier in the week that the school had narrowed down its choices to Miller and LaVall Jordan, who is an assistant on John Beilein's staff at Michigan.
Keefer and Woods noted on Thursday that Miller reportedly had a strong interview with Collier, and his background as both a player at the school and in different coaching circles had to factor into the decision to appoint him as the new man in charge.
Miller will be the first head coach of the Bulldogs as they move to the Big East Conference.
He'll have a tall task to match the success of the outgoing head coach. Stevens went 166-49 during his six seasons at Butler and chose to continue his coaching career with the Boston Celtics rather than come back for a seventh season in college.
Stevens turned an occasional NCAA tournament darling into a mid-major powerhouse, taking the program to the tournament final twice and facilitating the success that has the Bulldogs as one of the newest members of the basketball-favoring Big East.
Miller's experience with several high-level college head coaches has helped his ascension to his new job, but his experience as a point guard will also be helpful moving forward.
During his playing days, Miller averaged 11.6 points and 3.1 assists over three seasons. He was an All-Horizon League performer in college and was Butler's Co-Team MVP during his senior season.
He also helped the school win its first NCAA tournament game in 39 years during the 2001 Big Dance; Butler beat Wake Forest 79-63 as a No. 10 seed in an opening-round matchup that year. Miller had 18 points to put Butler through to the next round.