On Tuesday morning, the University of Cincinnati Sports Director John Cunningham called the recently retired North Carolina head coach Roy Williams to discuss Bearcats’ coaching search.
At the time, Cincinnati showed interest in UNC Greensboro trainer Wes Miller, whom the Bearcats hired on Wednesday. Miller played for Williams, a Hall of Fame head coach, in North Carolina, and Miller has named Williams his mentor.
Williams said to Cunningham, “Be prepared because Wes would blow you away.”
The Enquirer called Williams on Friday morning about UC’s new basketball head coach.
How did Wes Miller get from a walk-on at UNC to a starter?
You look at him and you don’t think you are looking at a basketball player. But he’s tough as you can be. He worked hard, always in the right place. Very intelligent, very aggressive and he can shoot the ball. He was tough enough to stand in and press charges against anyone. And he helped our team a lot. He fails the look test, but he passes the ball thrown test because it was as competitive as you can get.
“Excited to get to work”: Cincinnati Bearcats hired Wes Miller to succeed John Brannen as head coach
How were you able to help him early on in his coaching career?
He told me the first time he met that he was moving from James Madison, he and his father came to visit me and we talked about that he had the chance to come as a companion. I asked him: “In twenty years, what do you want to do?” He said: “I want to be a coach.” Then I said, “Well, you should come here because we’re going to help you get there.” While he was playing, we talked about coaching the whole time. When he got out, I knew he was going to be fantastic. Fortunately, there was a space available in Elon (2008) and we were able to help him get there. I didn’t do anything after that. Well, unless people would call me and ask for recommendations, and I said, “Just think of this as the highest recommendation you can get because every year his work blended into the work he did the next year. “
What do you remember the week he became a UNC Greensboro coach when he was 28?
He called for advice. He’s been just fantastic since he played. He always thought of being a trainer so he always tried to take some coaching that I and the rest of my staff gave him. But he was also thinking about it and how he was going to do things, so he was prepared, even when he was a player, he was ready to be a coach. When he got the job as head coach at Greensboro, I knew he was going to be great. It’s a tough job, he turned the program upside down. You have the records, look at what he did.
How could Wes Miller be so successful?
Intelligence. Organizational ability. Competitiveness. Taking care of the children, which will make them play for you. And he has knowledge of basketball.
How did you react when you heard of a connection between him and Cincinnati?
He called me. I knew the job was open, he called me and told me he was going to do a Zoom interview with them. I said, “Just be yourself, you will be great.” And I felt like he was going to get more than just the Zoom interview because he was just going for you. Then on Tuesday morning I spoke to the sporting director (John) Cunningham and told him to be prepared because Wes was going to blow him away. Then it was probably the next day (Cunningham) on campus (in Greensboro). Wednesday morning I wrote (Cunningham), “I know Wes is going to blow your mind, but let me know if you have any questions.” Basically, Wes Miller got the job because it’s so good.
What questions did UC AD John Cunningham have?
He can tell you that, but it was all about basketball and how well I thought Wes could do the job.
From your coaching career, how do you see the University of Cincinnati basketball program?
You think about it, there’s a lot of history and tradition there that people don’t recognize. You can go back to Oscar Robertson and this era is of great, great interest. Basketball is important to the community. It’s just a fantastic job and they want someone with the enthusiasm that Wes has. It’s a great partnership.
UNCG to UC:How Wes Miller became the Bearcats head coach
What Can Wes Miller Make a Great Fit at Cincinnati?
He will win. He will work his way to death, and people will appreciate his work ethic and get it done. And I’ll be there to see one of his first games.
Are you a fan of the Bearcats now?
I don’t know if I’ll buy season tickets, but I’ll probably be at the UCats Club. I’ll be there very, very early to see a game.