Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season. Today, we feature #8 Isaiah Miles.
Hawk fans, family members and Isaiah himself, let me begin this post by apologizing to you all on the under-rating of Isaiah with the No.8 spot in our top-25 A-10 player countdown of 2015. You should’ve been a First-Team selection by the Atlantic 10 and you should be higher in our rankings. So with that said, I come to you humbly asking for your forgiveness. In exchange for your forgiveness — hell, even without it — I will spend the next several hundred words explaining to A-10 fans and my fellow voters why you deserve to be higher. Here goes…
Statistically there seems to be one clear winner when it comes to best performances out of the Saint Joseph’s senior: a 36-point, 15-rebound, 4-block dominance of Virginia Tech (17-point Hawks win against a team that proved to be much improved). How many performances in the entire Atlantic 10 come close to that? Miles dominated the Hokies on the Barclays Center floor in what would be just one of many Barclays displays for the Baltimore native this past season.
As fun as that game was however for both Isaiah and Saint Joseph’s fans (as well as for me, an admitted Buzz Williams hater), Miles’ most important Barclays dominance came months later when he would dump consecutive 26-point performances in A-10 tournament action, first to knock out top-seeded Dayton in the semis, then dominating VCU in the conference tournament final, scoring 26 to go with 12 rebounds to grab his second tournament title in his past three seasons. Miles’ entire senior season was full of such games, so pat yourself on the back if you picked him up in a college fantasy league. You may have been the only person who saw this level of dominance coming.
Statistically Miles had a serious case for 2016 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, his closest competition maybe being eventual winner and fellow teammate, DeAndre Bembry. Miles led the Hawks in scoring at 18.1 points (7th in the A-10) in three less minutes per night than Bembry, grabbing a team-high 8.1 rebounds as well (5th in the A-10). His 128.6 season offensive rating led all players in the conference and ranked 16th nationally. He ranked No.1 in A-10 turnover rate and first in true shooting percentage. The 6’7 big shot 37.8% from range and 66.7% inside the arc in A-10 play. Trust me, you all want that on your team, probably ahead of almost anyone else in the conference not named DeAndre. The guy was as efficient of a player as you could find in the entire country and a major reason the Hawks made such a huge jump from last year’s disappointment. His senior performance is also a major reason he was one of just two A-10 players to receive an invite to this year’s NBA Draft Combine, a solid consolation prize for not making this year’s A-10 First Team.
Players — especially you underused or late-blooming sophomores and even juniors out there — look to Miles as an example of how you want to end up. Miles played sparingly his first two seasons at Saint Joseph’s, had an up-and-down junior season, then absolutely blew up as a senior. To quote an old friend, you gotta “trust the process”. Miles did just that and in doing so was a part of two A-10 Championship teams, went dancing twice and could be playing professionally in the NBA soon enough. How many Hawks fans saw that coming two years ago or even a year ago? Hell, how many Hawks coaches saw that coming?
Previously: #9 T.J. Cline
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