KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Even with as distinctive a name as Miller Kopp, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people on the national hoops scene who was familiar with his game this time last year.
“It’s crazy how much has changed in a year,” said Kopp, a wing with the Houston Defenders. “I put in a lot of work and it’s paying off.”
Last summer, Kopp suited up with Basketball University (Texas) on the adidas Gauntlet and averaged just eight points per game. This season, Kopp led the Under Armour Association in scoring, averaging 21.4 points per game in route to being named to the All-UAA first team.
Kopp summed up how he was able to nearly triple his point production in one year with three simple words: “I stayed ready.”
“I knew that I’d get the opportunity one day to show the full range of what I’m able to do so I just kept working,” Kopp said. “When I got with Coach (Aaron) Harrison he gave me that shot and I was prepared for it. I was constantly staying after practice and shooting, coming to the gym before and after school… Just everything that I could do to improve, I did it. Hard work really does pay off.”
One of the most impressive improvements Kopp made to his game was his vertical leap. In just one year he went from jumping 26 inches to 36 inches.
“It was a lot of squats and just working on my body overall,” said Kopp, who averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds a game last season at Houston Christian (Houston). “Plus, I grew two inches in the last year. My vertical is definitely something I’m very proud of.”
Harrison said that Kopp always had the ability but was out of position last year and as a result his confidence took a hit.
“He was playing power forward and he was in a tough spot and when you’re a kid and get down on yourself it hurts you mentally, which, in turn, affects your game,” Harrison said. “With us, if he misses a shot he’s gotta keep shooting and he’ll hear me say, ‘You can do it’ and that just makes him more confident. Defensively he’s grown off the charts too.”
That all-around growth has everyone from Texas A&M to Vanderbilt, SMU, Northwestern, Wichita State, Butler and Kansas State, among others, all giving chase.
Kopp’s response to going from underrated to hot commodity?
“It’s just time to work harder,” Kopp said. “Well, I see what hard work can get you in just a year so that only motivates me to keep working. I don’t need any other offers. It would be great; I’d just look at it as more blessings, but my only focus is on getting better and better. That’s worked for me so far.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY