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Brandon Miller, Ohio State assistant coach, reflects on his time at Butler and Ohio State

Brandon Miller, Ohio State assistant coach, faces his former team and alma mater Saturday when the Buckeyes finish off a home-and-home series with the Butler Bulldogs at noon in Value City Arena.

Miller, who led the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 as a player under current Ohio State head coach Thad Matta in 2003, is featured on the cover of the game program Saturday. He also sat down earlier this week for an interview with OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Read a preview of the game program feature story below and watch Miller’s interview above. Game programs are on sale at the game Saturday on the main concourse of Value City Arena. Fans also can watch the game live on Big Ten Network or listen to the Ohio State Radio Network call on Buckeye Vision at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Also check out interviews with Matta and sophomore Jon Diebler in the links above.

Once a Bulldog, Now a Buckeye
Assistant coach Brandon Miller returns to Ohio State after one year stint at alma mater Butler

Excuse Ohio State assistant coach Brandon Miller if he is a little torn on the sidelines when the Buckeyes and Bulldogs tip-off today. For Miller, the game is more than just a meeting between the two universities. It is a convergence of his entire life into 40 minutes of basketball.

On one side is Butler, where Miller remains one of the all-time greatest players in program history. His 1,121 career points in three seasons made him one of just eight players in Bulldog basketball history to score over 1,000 points. He cemented his legacy as a senior by leading the Bulldogs to an appearance in the “Sweet 16” in 2003.

On the other side is Ohio State and his mentor, Buckeye head coach Thad Matta. Recruited by Matta out of high school to play for Butler, Miller later joined the Matta-led Ohio State staff as the director of basketball operations in 2005 and held that title until assuming responsibilities as video coordinator for the 2006-07 season.

But Miller already knows what it is like when the two programs face off with each other. That is because last year it was Miller on the Butler bench, helping defeat the Buckeyes in his lone season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs.

“It was one of those things where you don’t want to see anyone lose in that situation, and unfortunately in the game of basketball, someone has to,” Miller said. “Butler is where I graduated from, I spent a year working there and I know their staff very well. I coached the players on that team and also recruited several of them. This year, I’ll compete and try and prepare Ohio State as best as I know how.”

When the opportunity to become an assistant coach presented itself at Ohio State this past offseason, Miller once again made a tough decision to leave his alma mater.

“Change is always hard, especially when you build relationships with people that you like and you’re in a good situation,” Miller said. “But there was a good opportunity here at Ohio State and after I talked about it with all parties, I decided it was the best decision for my family.”

One of those parties was Matta, who Miller says has helped his growth not only as a coach, but as a person.

“Our relationship first started when he recruited me and has continued to grow to the point where I work with him now on a day-to-day basis,” Miller said of Matta. “He’s always been good to me, ever since the recruiting process. He’s someone I look up to and follow both as a coach and how he goes about his daily business.”

Matta, who counts Miller among his all-time favorite players, always believed that Miller would make an excellent coach.

“He was a guy you knew would be a coach when he was playing,” Matta said. “He has always had a great feel for the game. He’s one of the toughest players I coached and he studied the game. After I left Butler, I told him that I would always take care of him.”

It was the same elements Miller brought to the court as a player – passion, desire and a strong work ethic – that have helped him as a coach. At just 29 years old, he has already established himself as one of the top young minds in the game. But as he says, it is all about hard work.

“The things I did as a player are the same things I do now as a coach,” Miller said. “I think those kinds of things are contagious. The more people you have like that, the more it catches on. I try and give the team anything it needs to win, which is the same thing I did as a player.”

So after years of moving around, Miller can settle in and help these young Buckeyes succeed. He will also have the chance to learn more about coaching from his mentor.

“Ohio State has always been very good to my family,” Miller said. “Coming back now it feels good being at the Schott everyday, trying to help the Buckeyes win and being a part of Coach Matta’s staff.”

And Ohio State is glad to have him back on its team too.