Chris Miller is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Brooklyn, New York that is playing his first season with Club de Baloncesto Cojute (El Salvador-Liga MB). He finished his second season recently with the VfB 1900 Giessen Pointers (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 26 games averaging 18.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.8apg, Steals-2 (2.8spg), FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 78.1%. He completed his rookie season in Germany with VfL Bensheim (2.Regionalliga). Before coming to Europe, he got semi-pro league experience in the states with the Jamestown jackals. He played college ball at Salem international University and graduated in 2015. He spoke to germanhoops.com recently about his season with the Giessen Pointers.
Chris thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. At the moment I am in Cojutepeque El Salvador. Basketball life is treating me good. I finished a good season in Germany, played for a month in Dominican Republic, and now I am part of a playoff push in El Salvador.
After playing in Bensheim Germany as a rookie in 2016-2017 you played in El Salvador in the summer of 2017 and this summer your playing in El Salvador for Club De Baloncesto Cojute Cuscatlan. How do you feel is getting that extra professional experience more beneficial than remaining at home and working on your game in the lab?
Yes Cojute is a nice place with genuine people. I feel great to have any chance to continue my career. For Me personally, my goal is to play All year round like I am now. I get my work done anywhere I go, so I am not worried about that. I love to travel and play basketball so I will jump to the opportunities to do so as they come.
In your first game in El Salvador you scored 34 points, had 10 boards and 6 rebounds. How good does it feel being back in El Salvador? What do you enjoy most about playing in El Salvador?
My first game was a good experience. I am in a position to play Point Guard and lead this team to a decent seed in the playoffs. Hopefully I can continue to perform like the first game and better. I enjoy a lot of different things here. The fact to continue my professional career is a blessing. This league allows 3 Americans per team so I am able to make new friends and network. This is a third world country so things are very different but it gives me an opportunity to experience another culture. The people here are not too fortunate but are the first to help. Truly genuine people we can learn a lot from.
How is your game more mature now in El Salvador than it was two summers ago?
My game has grown tremendously since my last season here in 2017. I played 2 more years Professionally. I led my team to a championship and found out what it truly takes to win. I am very comfortable playing point guard now. Also I have added a lot more to my game that I am very eager to show!!
After a very strong season in the Regionalliga with the Giessen Pointers, what is your main goal as a player now? Obviously you want to win games, but are you working on certain parts of your game or playing it safe and showcasing your strengths to help you for that next contract in Europe?
My main goal as a player is to grow my brand of basketball. Where ever I go I want people to know who I am and that I am a legit professional. Many times I get overlooked because of the leagues I have played in, but I have been doing this consistently for 5 years now without an agent. I only know how to play hard. For me to play it cool will be an injustice to the team I am currently on. This for me is a summer season so I am waiting to hear where I will land in Europe in the fall.
Talk a bit about the LMB league in El Salvador. How do you rate it to the German Regionalliga and Regionalliga 2 and are there any other well known players balling with and against you at the moment? I believe Marcus Faison is a guy that is one of the better known guys.
LMB is growing and becoming a respectable league. I think it is more competitive than the Regionalliga leagues because of the number of Americans alone. This league is exciting. They embrace big numbers and showcasing skills. You have to bring it every game!!There are some well established players playing here this season. I am excited to match up with guys like Christopher Blake, Anthony Brown and Marcus Faison.
Let’s talk about your Regionalliga season with the Giessen Pointers. You helped the team move up from Regionalliga 2. In the Regionalliga the team finished in seventh place with a record of 11-15. What was your season summary of the team’s performance?
After winning our championship there was a coaching change and new players added. We were a completely different team and were spending the year trying to figure it all out. We had our good games and some bad games. In the beginning of the season we were projected to be last place. We finished 7 out of 14. Its not the best year but I will take it.
The team had it’s best stretch in December and January with a 5-2 record, but finished the season losing 7 of 9 games. Why was the team so up and down? What kind of experience was it learning some Balkan basketball from Airosius Martynas?
When Marty arrived his intensity brought a new energy to the team. Some of our guys were going through the motions of a long season some were banged up. Marty came in with a lot to prove. We started off hot and were in the range of 4th place. The end of the season was tough, we were all playing banged up and some key guys were hit with season ending injuries.
You also played some games with 40 year old German Felix Rotaru. Was he a guy that had to hear the daily jokes about his age or did every one have full respect for the veteran?
Felix has my 100% of my respect. I am still trying to find his fountain of youth. At times he moves as if he is the youngest guy in the gym. He still has the ability to impact the game both on offense and defense. He has seen 20 years of professional basketball. I will like to accomplish that as well so when he spoke this year I was listening closely.
Let’s talk about your game. You had no adjustment period coming from the Regionalliga 2 averaging 18,9ppg, 4,2rpg and 2,8apg. How content were you with your season?
I am not at all happy with my last year. To some people that is a great year with decent stats. Leading in 4 different categories and getting an Honorable mention. The league is good but I feel I could of dominated more. Now I know what this league is about and I have all summer to plot my revenge for that Honorable mention. So beware of what I do next year.
You had another very good season at a new level the Regionalliga. How do you feel did your leadership skills improve in the Regionalliga?
With each year I add to my career I work on my leadership skills. I am not the most experienced player but if I know something I will let it be known. I learned how to communicate with my teammates to get the best out of each of them. I take pride in leading by example. I put the work in and do all the things necessary to be a successful player. If the top guys on the team are pushing this kind of attitude the rest have to fall in line.
In the Regionalliga 2 you were moved to point guard because of injuries. How do you feel did your game in the Regionalliga benefit most from having that playmaking role two seasons ago?
Playing Point Guard is very difficult. You are forced to control so many aspects of the game. At first I did not know how to get everyone else involved while keeping a scoring mentality. With time and the help from my coach Dejan Kostic I learned the balance which made me a more complete player. It didn’t happen overnight but now I am very confident in my ability to lead a team as a Point Guard.
You have very high standards as a player and surely know on what things you can improve on, but how do you feel did your game develop further in the Regionalliga?
Each level brings requires more from you. This year I played against some stronger players. The league was very balanced so 1 loss could drop you from middle to last place. So there is little room for error. I take these experiences and pay attention to what I could improve on. I am constantly studying my game and looking for better ways to play.
Did you ever benefit from being able to practice with the Pro B or BBL team of Giessen? How did these work outs help you most?
I was able to sit in on a few BBL and participate in Pro B practices. It showed me the level needed to be successful in those leagues. I took notes of the workouts and took advice from the players. I know I can play at those levels. I am just patiently waiting my turn.
You had many very good games in the Regionalliga, but was your 33 point explosion in the 92-86 win over Mannheim your most memorable game?
The game against Mannheim was a great game scoring wise. Most people would say it was my best game this year but I do not think so. The game I am most impressed with was the game at home vs Fellbach. I played 25 mins had 21 points missed only 3 shots added on 6 assists 6 Rebounds and 3 steals. I was impressed with the fact of having a complete game in a great team win.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Regionalliga this season?
The best matchup I had this year was against Ricky Easterling. Ever since I started in Germany I have been compared to him because we have similar play styles, we are both lefties and around the same height. He has been a good friend/mentor to me during this journey. The game played was tough because we both knew what the other would want to do. It was my version of the first time Kobe and Mj matched up. I hit the game winner so I got the best of that matchup that day.
I am looking forward to more battles with him in the future.
What is the next step for you? One guy who had a similiar path like you is Elijah Allen who played two seasons with the Giessen Pointers before making the jump to the Pro B Lich and now has become a good Pro A player. Do you feel like pro B teams have you on the radar?
Along With Easterling. I looked to Elijah Allen for advice. He has helped me along the way. Our stories are very similar and I would like to get to that level and more in the future. As far as next season I do not know what will happen. I am waiting for a call to see where I will go next. I would love to play Pro B next year. All I know is where ever it is I will be ready.
You have played in Germany most of your career. Would you like to remain in Germany or could you imagine getting to know a new culture and style of play in Europe?
I enjoy playing in Germany It is like my second home. I am also open experiencing other cultures and playing in other countries. Either way is fine for me.
Ron Howard is a guy that you remain forever thankful for helping you get your first professional contract with Bensheim. How often do you think about having made the decision to join Howard Hoops when you had the opportunity and what may have happened had you not?
One of the best decisions I made was to trust in Ron Howard. He has been a true person with me since day 1. Anytime I need him he is there to answer. I often think back to that summer of 2016. I went to a bunch of combines and was losing hope. I finally decided to take one last shot and go to Ron’s tour and 4 years later we are here.
On what things will you continue to work on in the lab this summer as you prepare for that next basketball gig?
I will continue to work on my overall game. I would like to improve in every aspect. The biggest part to me is the mental. Everything else follows.
Do you feel like Luka Doncic could one day become one of the greatest Europeans to ever have played in the NBA?
Luka Doncic has a great game. He is a big guard who is skilled smart can shoot and defend. He has a long way to go before being named the greatest European player ever but if he continues to have years like this one. He will have a strong argument.
Kahwi Leonard had a great season with the Toronto Raptors. How do you rate him overall with the best players in the NBA? Some say he is the best at the moment?
Kawhi is having a great season and I am very impressed with his improvements. He is a great player but I still do not think he is on the same level as Kevin Durant. In my opinion he is the Most complete player and is impossible to guard.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was The new Avengers. Great movie and I am a Die hard Marvel Fan. I will not spoil the movie and give details. All I can say is That I have all the infinity stones!!
Thanks Chris for the chat.