Raekwon Miller is a 22 year old 191cm guard from Marion, North Carolina embarking on his professional career in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He played his NCAA career at NC-Asheville from 2014-2018 playing a total of 91 NCAA games. In his senior year he played 33 games averaging 11.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 47.9%, FT: 76.2%. He spoke to Germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Raekwon thanks for talking to Germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been coming along fresh out of school?
Right now I am currently back home enjoying my summer but also staying in the gym and working on my craft as I know its more important now than ever.
Before we get into the meat of the interview, I have to ask you about your unusual name. Does it have a special meaning and how did your parents come up with it?
My name was actually given to me by my brother, he listened to Raekwon the Chef apart of Wu tang Clan back in their day when it was really popular. My parents liked the name so they went with it.
Congrats on signing with German Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. This was your first summer experiencing the professional transfer market. How was it for you and did you have a fair amount of offers or was it a tough go around?
The experience had me very anxious I mean I was basically putting all trust into my agent who is wonderful enough to get me the opportunity to play at the professional league. The waiting around for offers to come in got to me a little bit but it was all worth it in the end.
The Dragons Rhondorf took a while to find their lone import player and were very selective. How thankful are you that you will be able to start your professional career with the Dragons Rhondorf?
I am truly blessed with God’s will to be able to play professional basketball alone itself but to also do it for an organization that has had great success in the recent years truly makes it more special as I can follow in footsteps of those that have done it the right way and won so I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the team and starting a great season with Coach Thomas and staff.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you known any guys that have played in Germany in the past?
I actually had a teammate this past year that was from Germany in Jon Baehre and he told me a little bit about the basketball over there and how it differs and also the cultural differences such as there is no such thing as fashionably late. 5 minutes early is almost considered late in their country and has also been helpful now that I have accepted the offer to go play over there. As far as knowing about people that played over there I actually had a cousin who played at Wake Forest by the name of David Weaver who has went to Germany to play.
What sold you on signing on the dotted line with the Dragons Rhondorf? Did you have talks with head coach Thomas Adelt that gave you that signal that making this team your first in your rookie season would be the right one?
That was exactly it, Coach Thomas called me personally to tell me that they wanted me at the point guard position which is where I want to be anyways I feel more comfortable in that position and like to control the game. He explained the logistics of the team and the playing style and I felt that it perfectly fit into how I want and like to play.
Let’s talk about your game. You a big 192cm combo guard. Would you describe yourself more of a point guard or shooting guard?
Back to the previous question I would say I am more of a point guard. I see the game very well it’s almost like I am two steps ahead especially on the offensive end but I can also score the ball when needed like a shooting guard but I think the team gets more involved on both ends of the court when I am getting them involved on the offensive end. I love getting assists and being a complete rounded player on the court so point guard definitely for me.
You’re a guard that can fill up the stat sheet and are a good defender. If you had to pick an NBA player that best describes how you play the game which player would you choose?
Best describes my game would be either be my favorite player in CJ McCollum or Russell Westbrook
Your shooting really stands out. Your last coach Nick McDevitt stated ‘ He’s a true scorer who can score in a lot of different ways. And when’s he hot from the outside, look out’. What other strengths do you possess in your game that would not classify yourself as a one dimensional player?
My other strengths would be that I am not afraid to stick my nose in there and grab some big rebounds I actually like it because I don’t have to worry about getting passed the ball to go in transition which is my favorite, I can also pass and see the floor extremely well.
You shot around 30% from outside in your second and third seasons, but really exploded in your senior season shooting 47%. To what do you credit this rapid rise in your shooting? Was it more just getting up more reps or was it a rapid increase in excellent shot selection?
Nothing really changed I got up the same amount of shots the second and third year and actually got in the gym a little less surprisingly but due to fatigued throughout the season I just finally got a role that was more set and stone and not jumping from first man off the bench to sitting and not seeing the floor at all some games. My role was more prominent and allowed my game to relax more and do what I know I was capable of.
You’re a very versatile player that can do so much at both ends of the court, but what do you feel is still a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
My IQ for the game. I don’t think people really understand exactly what happens throughout a game but I do it’s like someone will hit 2 or 3 shots in a row and then teammates won’t find that person for 10 minutes down the stretch oppose to me I try to find that guy immediately I mean he has the hot hand why would you not get easy points on the board plus it’s an assist credited to you. Just things of those sort that are real easy to do yet players don’t do it..
There is a new rule that teams are only allowed one import player so there will be more responsibility in your hands. Are you up for the challenge and do you feel like you can become an impact player in the German Pro B?
I wasn’t aware of this rule until now but now that you said that I am looking to take this challenge head on even more than before. I feel if they have enough faith in me to step up and be a big contributor I must answer my calling and do so.
I believe a big reason coach Thomas Adelt got you is because of your leadership skills. At NC Ashville, you had a very young team and will have the same with the Rhondorf Dragons. Did leading always come easy to you?
Yeah I have grown up watching documentaries of all the greats and watch basketball my whole life of people who have led their teams and even in other aspects outside of sports. Just understanding what it takes to get the most out of people and make them want to give you their best not because of me personally but because you’re selling yourself and teammates short by not giving all that you have. It’s a waste of given and gifted talent that others would kill to have.
You played four years at NC-Asheville (NCAA). How thankful are you for the experience and how proud are you that you were one of few to be a walk on and get a schlorship?
I am truly taken aback at the experience and what all I got to do while at UNC Asheville. I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching staff or better teammates to do it with especially the amazing senior class I came in with. The scholarship was a huge blessing as I came out of high school and felt like I was good enough to play Div. 1 basketball yet only received 2 Div. 2 offers was more fuel to the fire once I got the opportunity to walk on to UNC Asheville campus.
Your minutes increased each year. How tough was it not getting more of an offensive role until your senior year? How mentally challenging was getting through the first three years?
It was very tough but the offense was never the case. It was my defense and awareness on defense that prevented me from earring significant minutes on the floor early in my career and I have no one to fault for that but myself.
Obviously playing in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament and drawing eventual champion Villanova was a huge experience, but where does your 16 point game rank where you led your team to come back from 25 points down against Winthrop and win 85-84? That seemed to be your break out game in school?
To this day I will tell people that is the best game I have been a part of. The crowd was intense at our home place it was to remain in first place and also happened to be against our rivals. Due to some sickness that happened within our team I was told prior to the game that my chance was coming and I took it head on.
You actually hit four big deep three’s in the comeback, but you actually didn’t win the game with a bucket, but made the perfect bounce pass to Ahmad Thomas who was the hero. Does this play still seem fresh in your mind now more than two years ago?
Oh yes we called Texas he knew I was feeling confident and put the ball in my hands and just told me to make the right play so as I come off the ball screen my man got hung up a bit I get into the lane just a little and Ahmad’s man stepped up just a little too much and Ahmad is basically a security blanket down in the paint he’s going get his hands on it every time you throw it too him so it was an easy decision.
Take me back to that 86-56 loss against Villanova at the 2016 NCAA tournament. What will you forever remember most from that breathtaking experience?
I took away from that experience that that’s where I want to get to being an elite basketball player at the top of whatever league/division it was just as they were. It was motivation to get better so we could at least hang with those team or even beat them.
What memories do you have playing against 4 future NBA players with Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu and Mikal Bridges? If you look back to that game, which of those four guys had the most potential then to reach the NBA?
To me the most ready NBA player to me seemed to be Ochefu because he just held a presence about him inside the paint you had to respect him because he could score in a variety of ways down there then if you respected him too much he was skilled enough to pinpoint passes to shooters.
How vital was it playing alongside big talent Macio Teague who once dropped 51 points in a high school game and now has transferred to Baylor? How did your game grow with his presence each day?
Playing alongside MaCio was huge. The man is a competitor let me tell you it’s crazy don’t matter what it was he was literally like me hated to lose in whatever it was. Uno, pool, basketball you name it but losing is the last option and that kind of stuff rubs off on you so you carry that same mentality and approach things much differently.
How did head coach Nick McDevitt groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Nick made me develop as a complete player the intangibles and off court preparation such as recovery and treating my body right with the food I put into it then there’s so much more just the life lessons off the court and talks that helped me grow as an individual truly helped me on the court growing a relationship with him. He helped me tremendously to say the least.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Macio Teague who transferred to Baylor?
Is this where I lie and say me? Lol no honestly Mace won more of our one on one games but when it came down to 5 on 5 and we were on opposing teams I would win majority of them.
You played against so many great players at the NCAA level, but which player was your toughest opponent that is in the NBA now?
The best player I have probably faced would have to be Josh Hart the way he is playing lately
How does your 2018 summer work out plan look like? On what things will you be working on most so you will be fully prepared for your rookie season?
Just being more consistent with everything improving my assist to turnover ratio and shooting a high percentage
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kareem
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
Honestly I think we should just witness greatness and stop trying to put a title on the goat but if I really got to answer 6-0 enough said..
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
They got a good group of guys right now and the best coach in the NBA in my opinion so it is possible
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. Do you feel that from sheer talent and experience that Luca Doncic should have been the real #1 draft pick?
Honestly it just depends on team need and if you feel you got a playmaker already and need a Raw big man you take Ayton and vice versa
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
There is honestly no telling how many he would have
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
Last movie I saw was Incredible 2 and it was incredible pun intended lol
Thanks Raekwon for the chat.