After spending his freshman and sophomore years at point guard, Bryce Miller transitioned to shooting guard for the good of the New Berlin Eisenhower boys basketball team this past season.
It was a move that also paid off for Miller, as the junior broke out as one of the area's top shooters and scorers, earning Now Newspapers All-Suburban honors for his role in leading the Lions to a 20-6 record and a trip to the sectional final.
After scoring 4.8 points per game as a freshman and 5.7 points as a sophomore, Miller led Eisenhower in scoring at 16.6 points per game. His 77 made 3-pointers were 14th most in the state. Miller connected on 48.1 percent of tries from beyond the arc, hitting at least five triples in six games and multiple 3-pointers in 19 games.
"A decision like that is always what is best for the team," Eisenhower coach Dave Scheidegger said. "For the team, playing the two was the fit for the team. Even better, it fits Bryce's persona, mentality, and skill. A lot of kids want to play the two, but they can't shoot. That was a natural fit for Bryce with his great shooting and great ball skills. Bryce thinks score. Not every kid thinks score."
Miller averaged 13.4 points and shot 40.7 percent from distance in Eisenhower's 3-4 start to the season. The Lions took off to win 17 of their final 19 games after a Dec. 22 loss to Pewaukee and Miller was a major reason why.
Miller steps up his game
He poured in 17.7 points per game and made 49.6 percent of his 3-point tries during the 19-game stretch in which Eisenhower was one of the best teams in the area. During a three-game stretch in late January, Miller averaged 27.0 points and hit 19-of-29 3-point attempts, including scoring a career-high 32 points on 8-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc in a win over Wauwatosa East
Miller stepped up when the Lions needed him in the playoffs, as well, scoring 22.3 points and shooting 24 for 41 (58.5 percent) from the field and 14 for 26 (53.8 percent) from distance in four playoff games.
"He definitely blossomed this year," Scheidegger said. "He was just more under control and understood things. He understood his role on the team and Bryce can score the ball, but everything he did was within the framework of team play. That's important for team success. He's had one of the best junior years I've seen. He was playing like a senior as a junior."
Miller had a similar breakout season on the football field this past fall, as he quarterbacked Eisenhower to a 7-3 season and threw for 1,768 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first season behind center for the Lions.
"Football really helped me with my leadership skills," Miller said. "Obviously, playing quarterback you have to be pretty good at organizing a bigger group of people. Even though I got moved to shooting guard this year, it still helped to be able to organize the offense. Both sports work hand in hand. They both develop leadership skills. I think that was a big boost in helping my game this year."
Being a leader
The Lions had a strong senior class that provided leadership this past season. But with seven seniors graduating, Miller knows he will be looked to as a leader in the program both on and off the court.
"As more of a captain of the team now, I want to improve the chemistry," Miller said. "This is my grade and we're all playing together. I think it would be cool to improve the team chemistry and have us gel maybe earlier in the season. I know it sometimes takes awhile to get the team working well together, but I think throughout the summer we can all practice and work together to gel earlier."
Scheidegger was encouraged to hear Miller is already embracing a leadership role heading into his senior season.
"We can steer and direct but it has to come naturally from the kid," Scheidegger said. "He's a wonderful role model and is very well-respected as a person. His teammates know what he can do as an athlete. That's a great scenario when you have a guy of Bryce's ability and caliber also earning that respect on and off the court. That equates to success."
Eisenhower senior forward Sullivan Kulju earned high honorable mention All-Suburban after averaging 15.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Senior forward Matt Rolefson (10.7 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Scheidegger received honorable mention honors.
"Sully is a great player," Miller said. "I loved to play with him. He really took a lot of the pressure and weight off my shoulders because he would always get so much attention. He loves basketball and is always in the gym getting better.
"You could tell four years with coach Scheidegger really helped Sully expand his game. He's really unselfish. His unselfishness really helped us this year. It spread to everybody. Everybody just wanted to see the team do as well as it could. They put the team before themselves and that's why we had a really successful season."