By R.L. Bynum
Two Walkers who transferred from Carolina debuted at their new schools on Tuesday night but the one who had a better overall number might surprise many Tar Heels fans.
To say the least, Walker Miller has found a productive new home playing for former UNC guard King Rice at Monmouth.
In the Hawks’ season-opening 68–66 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday night, Miller started and played 36 minutes. He scored a game-high 23 points, with seven rebounds and three blocks, all career-highs. He was 9 of 17 from the floor for a career-high field-goal total.
“I thought I played all right but I thought I could have made a couple of extra plays to help us win because at the end of the day, that’s all I care about and that’s what this is all about,” Miller said.
Monmouth trailed by 15 points with 12:55 left but rallied to make a game of it. Miller’s basket with 1:26 left pulled the Hawks within two. A potential game-winning 3-point attempt by Monmouth’s George Papas missed.
Miller, a graduate student, told A Daily Dose of Hoops that Rice being the head coach at Monmouth factored into his decision to transfer there. Miller’s brother, Cincinnati coach Wes Miller, also is friends with Rice.
“A big part of it is King and the relationship I have with him,” Walker Miller told Daily Dose. “He’s a Carolina guy. I met him when I was there and he has a great relationship with my brother. So, I’d talked to him, and I was talking to him throughout the time after I was sure I was going to transfer and use my extra year somewhere else.
“I like everything about him,” said Miller, who made all five free-throw attempts. “I like his honesty, I like how he coaches and interacts with his players, and it’s all come true since I’ve been here. It’s been a great experience and King’s a big reason why I came here, and he’s also a big reason why I’ve enjoyed it so much.”
Miller scored 36 points in 140 minutes over 69 career games at UNC.
One of his best moments as a Tar Heel was when he drew a charging foul against Duke’s D.J. Steward early in his senior night game last season, a 91–73 victory.
Monmouth plays at Towson at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Another center who transferred from UNC, Walker Kessler, won in his Auburn debut but his numbers weren’t as good.
In 25 minutes of the Tigers’ 77–54 home victory over Morehead State, he started and finished with six points on 3 of 6 shooting (missing all four 3-point attempts and both free-throw attempts), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and five blocks.
“You know, my height helps,” Kessler said of the blocks. “But I’ve always had a knack about it and timing.”
Kessler blocked 25 shots last season for the Tar Heels, including eight in their 101–59 ACC tournament victory against Notre Dame when he had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Auburn is at home Friday night at 8 p.m. ET against Louisiana-Monroe.
Cincinnati won Wes Miller’s coaching debut Tuesday with the Bearcats 65–43 at home against Evansville. The Bearcats play host to Georgia at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Garrison Brooks makes his Mississippi State debut on Wednesday night at home against North Alabama.
Andrew Platek reportedly enrolled at Siena College but he isn’t listed on the school’s men’s basketball roster.
Photo via @MonmouthBBall