In final season, Ohio State's Braxtin Miller ready to cement name for herself

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Braxtin Miller (10) dribbles the ball up court against Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter of their Big Ten game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on February 4, 2020.

The cases of mistaken identity started around eighth grade.

She was one year shy of starting her prep basketball career at Kettering Alter when Braxtin Miller started to be confused for that “other” standout athlete with the same name from her region. As the talented Miller was going through the 2012-13 school year, Braxton Miller was entering his second season as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Not only were the two standout athletes separated by one vowel, less than 15 miles separated her eventual high school from Braxton Miller’s alma mater of Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne. So, yes, the similarities were pointed out.

“I get it a lot,” Braxtin Miller said at Big Ten media day. “I’m super used to it at this point.”

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There’s a famous ESPN commercial showcasing a white, middle-aged businessman who happens to be named Michael Jordan. Whether it’s checking into a doctor’s appointment, being picked up at the airport or having food delivered to his apartment, the man is constantly greeted by sighs of disappointment when he doesn’t turn out to be the NBA legend of the same name.

Now entering her fifth season of college basketball and third at Ohio State, Miller said that’s happened to her.

“There’s times where I’ll go into the doctor’s office for my wrist or something and they thought it was gonna be him,” she said, “and I’m like, I’m so sorry to disappoint you. It’s just me.”

There’s no disappointment among the Ohio State women’s basketball team about Miller, and to the Buckeyes she’s not “just” the other Miller. A starter in 19 of 20 games last season, Miller enters her final season with the program having averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in a team-high 34.4 minutes per game while emerging as the team’s on-court leader.

She ended the season with a choice, too. With the extra year afforded to all players by the NCAA, she could have found another home for one final season of college basketball. After spending her first two seasons at Oklahoma State, Miller knew she wanted to stay home in Ohio with her teammates.

“We came in the same year and being a freshman, she helped me a ton, even her not really knowing the offense yet,” third-year guard Jacy Sheldon said. “It clicked right away and she was able to help me and others understand (the game), and she’s still doing that.”

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Coach Kevin McGuff praised Miller for her basketball IQ and her willingness to embrace little parts of the game that can easily go unnoticed and help set a tone.

“She’s a terrific leader in our program,” he said. “We still have young players that we’re going to count on this year and I think with her leadership and experience they’re going to grow faster and be better than if she wasn’t here.”

There’s still more to give. After making 105 threes in two seasons at Oklahoma State – a figure that puts her ninth in program history – she has 51 to her name at Ohio State. Her career-high scoring average of 14.7 points came during her second and final season with the program.

This year, look for Miller to look for some more offense.

“My defense is always gonna come,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m rebounding to help contribute to the team. Making sure that if I miss a shot here or there it doesn’t stop me. Sometimes I don’t do that. Making sure I can keep driving and attacking and being confident in my own abilities.”

And in the process, Miller will continue to make a name for herself.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy