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Madison senior Luke Miller is the Madison Courier Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

As his team’s leading scorer and the son of Hanover College men’s basketball coach Jon Miller, Madison’s Luke Miller knew that the spotlight would be squarely on him. Night-in and night-out, opposing teams would try to find a way to slow down the Cub sharpshooter, often to no avail.

But despite that attention, Miller thrived and the senior was a huge reason why the Cubs had their best season in nearly 15 years.

Miller ended up averaging 18.1 points per game for the 17-9 Cubs but it wasn’t just his scoring that makes him the first Madison Cub in five years to be named Madison Courier’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Consistent game-in and game-out, the Cubs knew that their senior leader would be there whenever they needed him the most.

“Coming into this year, I knew we were going to have a good team and I wanted to make sure that everybody knew their role,” Miller said. “For me personally, I think I had a pretty dang good year. I shot the ball well. Some teams would put a guy on me and face-guard me in the corner and I think that when a coach does that, it really shows that they respect you. That happened quite a few times.”

When you shoot 44% from 3-point range you draw attention and every team in the area knew that if Miller had the ball on the outside, he was just as likely to drain a shot as not. But while Miller carried a reputation into the season as a deadly shooter, it was his athleticism that caught many teams by surprise.

Standing just 6-foot-2, Miller showed a greater proclivity for driving to the rim his senior year, making him an even more dangerous offensive threat. That combination of skills showed during the Cubs’ sectional semifinal win over Scottsburg when he scored 11-straight points for Madison at one point, hitting three 3-pointers and throwing down a two-handed dunk.

Miller laughs when he talks about his ability to dunk. It wasn’t that long ago that just the thought of touching the rim was a pipe dream.

“Coming in here my freshman year I couldn’t jump over a newspaper,” Miller laughed. “Right before the season I measured a max 41-inch vertical and that’s something that I need to thank (strength coach) Jay (Roney) for. That’s something I never thought I would be able to do.”

Madison head coach Sherron Wilkerson noticed the amount of work Miller has put into his game, both on and off the court.

“I wish I could bottle what Luke did from the sectional championship game last year to the sectional championship game this year. It was truly remarkable how much work he put in to make himself better,” Wilkerson said. “He was always a great shooter and an incredibly intelligent kid, but he made himself a leader and he was much more aggressive. And he really became much better on the defensive end and I think that’s the real key to making yourself a complete player.”

That work has not only garnered Miller the Courier’s top award but also made him a First Team All-Hoosier Hills Conference selection. He also carried a 4.2 GPA this school year and will be named Academic All-State.

A player of Miller’s ability could have gone nearly anywhere to play in college but it wasn’t a hard decision to stay home and play for his father and Hanover College. The younger Miller has spent his entire life around the Hanover program and he’s ready to finally step on the floor as a Panther.

“I already know most of the guys, I know the assistant coaches — I actually watched them play at Hanover — and just being around my dad and knowing how he coaches, I think it will give me a little advantage and I’ll probably know more than some incoming freshman,” Miller said.

Wilkerson believes that Miller will not only fit in at Hanover, but he’ll thrive.

“Getting a chance to play for your father in college, what a wonderful opportunity for Luke, his dad and their entire family. This is truly a once in a lifetime situation,” Wilkerson said. “I expect Luke to flourish there and personally, I think Coach Miller is getting an absolute steal.”

With basketball season over and no other sports to play, Miller’s high school career is over. He plans to spend the next several months getting ready for his first college season, but he isn’t ready to say goodbye to Madison just yet.

“All of the work that I have put in since the end of my eighth grade year to now has paid off. That’s something that I hope the younger kids in Madison will realize,” Miller said. “I’m hoping to go over (to the junior high) with a couple of other guys and explain what it’s like to come through the program and what they need to know and what they need to focus on and show them that hard work pays off.”