Philly is a tough sports town… Fans want success and they want it yesterday…
It can be a very difficult place to establish a playing or coaching career. Thirty years ago, a hard-nosed, no-frills guard emerged on the basketball landscape and led Simon Gratz High School to the Public League championship with a 26-4 record.
That season, his last year playing for legendary high school coach, Bill Ellerbee, Aaron McKie averaged 18.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Despite his incredibly well-rounded game and his accomplishments in what was then one of the premier scholastic leagues in America, McKie wasn’t highly recruited.
But he got the offer he wanted…
Even though McKie was unable to meet NCAA freshman eligibility requirements, Temple’s Hall of Fame coach, John Chaney gave him a scholarship and patiently waited for McKie’s sophomore year to put him on the court for the Owls.
As they say, the rest is history… McKie finished his three-year career tied for sixth on the Owl’s all-time scoring list with 1,650 points. Once eligible, McKie never came off the court, averaging 17.9 points per game while starting all 92 games. He teamed up with eventual NBA All-Star Eddie Jones at Temple, and was named first-team All-A10 and he was named to the A-10 all-tournament team as a senior. As a junior, he was the 1993 A10 Player of the Year, after averaging 20.6 points per game.
Fast forward 30 years… After a strong 14 year NBA playing career, McKie finds himself at the helm of the Owl program. Coming off an inaugural season that saw his squad post a subpar record of 14-17, McKie is looking to instill some of that Philly toughness he was known for as collegian.
Today, McKie accepted a commitment from his first Philadelphia player as head coach of the Owls. Hysier Miller, a rising senior for the reigning Philadelphia Catholic League Catholic League Champion Neumann-Goretti Saints has stated that he will play college basketball on North Broad Street. Miller chose the Owls over Penn, Penn State, East Carolina and Rider, among others.
The Liacouris Center is a 10 minute drive from Miller’s Wilson Park neighborhood in South Philadelphia. For the uninitiated, Wilson Park is the decidedly NON-GENTRIFIED section of South Philly. He lives a mere stone’s throw from I-76. It’s a neighborhood that has experienced far more than it’s fair share of violence and mayhem in recent years.
Miller has seen some of his friends and family members succumb to the lure of the streets. Through it all, he has managed to maintain a clear focus on his educational, vocational and athletic goals.
Upon transferring to Neumann-Goretti prior to his junior season, Miller stated that he would bring the Catholic League crown back to South Philly… Done.
As he worked his way through the recruiting process, Miller established a strong relationship with Temple Assistant coach, Chris Clark. He worked extremely hard to get this commitment done… The last Philadelphia Catholic League player to suit up for the Owls, Clark really zeroed in on Miller. The phone calls and texts were relentless. Miller was the guy Clark really wanted. Over time, their relationship grew much stronger. Miller was also impressed by the direct, no sugar coating personal interaction style of Coach McKie.
Miller has a very large extended family. His younger siblings and little cousins look to him for guidance and direction. He actually works a few of them out everyday. During these sessions, Miller is a taskmaster… “No days off” he says.
As he weighed his options, Miller knew he wanted to play for a coach he really trusted in a high profile and highly competitive league. He also wanted to be able to share his college playing career with his mother, aunts, siblings and cousins that have supported him along the way.
Temple is his choice.
The first Philly kid to commit to Head Coach Aaron McKie is the personification of Temple TUFF!
Hysier Miller will look to defend the best opposing player… He will take no plays off… He will not unnecessarily dribble between his legs and behind his back… He will make the plays at the right time… He will help Temple win basketball games…
Shit… In so many ways, he reminds a lot of a kid from ‘Norf’ Philly that arrived on Broad Street 30 years ago..
That worked out pretty good for the Owl program… So will this commitment.