Is Wes Miller the answer for the Bearcats?


In April of 2021, the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball program got a new look.

The University hired Wes Miller to be the program’s new head basketball coach, following a breakup with former coach John Brannen. Brannen brought a lot of controversy to the program, and Miller was faced with the tough task of putting the program back together.

Wes Miller being introduced by athletic director John Cunningham.

Miller took over a program that had seen six of their scholarship players enter the transfer portal. Miller immediately did a great job putting a roster together. Attracting transfers such as John Newman III, Ody Ogauma, A.J. Mcginnis, and bringing many former players back to the team.

Returning sophomore sharpshooter, Mason Madsen was asked about Miller, to which he said, “No one’s said this to his face, but we’ve all said it in the locker room, we feel like we’re playing for the best coach in the country. That might sound like an absurd statement, but you could look back in ten years and be like, they were right.”

Madsen’s statement excited the Bearcat fan base, and it looked to be true when the bearcats upset Illinois in the Hall of Fame Classic, earlier this season. The very next night the bearcats held a lead over Arkansas, which was a top 15 team at the time. While the Cats couldn’t pull off back-to-back upsets, it gave the fan base something to look forward to. Maybe they had finally found their coach.

While this team has been extremely shaky throughout the first half of the season, one thing is certain. Coach Miller knows what he is doing. He assembled a great coaching staff, working close with former players to find out what they wanted from the team, and the staff.

Bringing in former players, Demar Johnson, and Kyle Washington

Kyle Washington playing for Cincinnati in 2018

to the coaching staff gave the university some excitement. Former players were very open with the fact that they wanted Nick Van Exel to be the next head coach. Miller recognized this and worked with them to bring some fire to his staff.

Historically, former players coaching for their alma mater has worked out very well. A prime example of this is Juwan Howard at Michigan. Miller saw this and took advantage of it to build the best roster he possibly could.

Miller has also proven to be a very good recruiter, this was shown not only in his assembly of a broken roster this past off-season, but also with his 2022 recruiting class. Miller gave Cincinnati basketball a new look, with some highly rated recruits. This class includes two consensus 4-stars, in Daniel Skillings, and Sage Tolentino.  Josh Reed is also considered a 4-star prospect on many rankings websites, however 247 sports has him listed as a 3-star.

Regardless of how many stars each recruit has received, coach Miller has done an excellent job in rebuilding a roster that was in shambles less than a year ago. When Wes Miller accepted the job this team had Jeremiah Davenport, Rob Banks, Mika Adams Woods, David DeJulius, and Sam Martin as the only recognizable names on the roster, with Martin and Banks as walk-ons.

Miller was able to get Mason Madsen, Mike Saunders, and Viktor Lahkin to return to the team, as well as bringing many of the players from his former team, UNCG.

During his time at UNCG Miller won three southern conference championships, while posting three straight 25-win seasons, and three appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Miller was a finalist to replace Roy Williams at North Carolina. They ended up hiring Hubert Davis over Miller, but he is still seen as the future of the tar heels program. Bearcat fans hope to keep Miller with them for a long time to come. Cincinnati has seen what Luke Fickell has been able to do with the football program, and they’re starting see the same thing happen with Miller and the basketball team.

Miller’s willingness to create an enjoyable environment for current and past players has gained him some popularity. All of Cincinnati was ecstatic to see him bring in former players like Washington, and Johnson. His recruiting success and upset mentality has created a buzz around campus. Overall, Miller has been welcomed nicely to his new city and job.