Just over five years ago, on June 22, 2007, a 6’9″ power forward committed to play college basketball for coach Trent Johnson at Stanford. Less than a year later on April 9, 2008, Coach Johnson chose another school as well and became the new head coach of the LSU Tigers. It was a strange chain of events that led to Johnson leaving Stanford and Miles Plumlee eventually going to play for the Duke Blue Devils.
The man who would hire Trent Johnson away from Stanford was new LSU AD Joe Alleva (hired on April 4, 2008 after being fired from Duke University after the fallout from the lacrosse scandal.)
On May 1, 2008, just a month after Johnson was hired, Miles committed to Duke to join his younger brother in Durham.
After dragging the search out for months, Stanford eventually hired former Duke Associate Head Coach Johnny Dawkins.
The Plumlee brothers’ coach at Christ School, David Gaines, was happy for Miles: ”The way Duke plays perfectly suits Miles’s skill set,” said Gaines, who praised Plumlee’s versatility. ”He looked and said, ‘Geez, with a lot of work and things falling the right way, I’ve got a chance to play on a really good team,’ ” Gaines said.
While Miles certainly gained some attention from high school scouts, he finished ranked #81 in the RSCI composite index. Duke’s post presence the year before Miles arrived mainly consisted of Kyle Singler playing center as Lance Thomas adjusted to the college game and Brian Zoubek battled numerous injuries. Miles actually started his very first game in a Duke uniform, logging 13 minutes against Presbyterian. He played sparingly that year as Zoubek and Thomas played most of the minutes for the Blue Devils’ 2008-2009 campaign and Plumlee balanced the demands of life as an elite college basketball player and a student in the Pratt School of Engineering.
Plumlee never put too many points on the scoreboard throughout his Duke career, but with his extremely advanced athleticism he was a valuable contributor on the 2010 national championship team and leaves Durham with a ring on his finger and a degree in hand. During the summer between his junior and senior years, Miles interned in New York and seemed destined for a career in the business world. However, that freak athleticism (he posted a school record at Christ School with a high jump of 6’9” and finished second in the state meet) has led to an unexpected ascension up the draft boards of many a mock in today’s NBA Draft.
As a senior, he won “The Belt” from Duke strength coach Will Stephens which is an award given to the hardest working player in the weight room.
Looking at some of the other players who were ranked near Miles Plumlee in the RSCI composite index, we can see just how impressive it is for his name to even be in consideration to be selected in tonight’ draft. The five power forwards ranked ahead of Plumlee are named Matt Simpkins, Allan Chaney, Ater Majok, Terrance Henry and Chris Braswell. Only Majok has had his name on the lips of NBA executives, as he was drafted by the LA Lakers at #58 in last year’s draft.
Watch Miles’ draft combine interview and hope for the best for him tonight as he will wait for his name to be called. While many have doubted his ability based off his performance as a Duke Blue Devil, the NBA drafts on potential not on performance. Whether he can become a regular NBA player remains to be seen, but by the sounds of it, plenty of smart basketball people believe that Miles Plumlee can turn potential into performance.