Commentary

Miles is cornerstone of improving MIAA B conference school

Updated: February 7, 2009, 6:29 PM ET
By James Quinn | ESPNRISE.com

As an eighth-grader coming out of Randallstown (Md.) in Baltimore County, Isaiah Miles was recruited by all the top Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) A conference prep basketball powers, but he opted for Glenelg Country School, a small, academically elite private school in Howard County that plays in the MIAA B conference.

As a 6-foot-6, 175-pound freshman, Miles is averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game for GCS.

"[I chose GCS] because of its academics, but the athletic program is good and the basketball program is getting better," Miles said. "Academics and getting a good education will be important to me when I pick a college. My parents are very interested in me getting a great education, and it is important to me, too."

"Isaiah has been pretty consistent in terms of his production as the season has progressed," GCS head coach Charlie Stewart told ESPNRISE.com. "He has six double-double games, and he has high games of 25 points and 14 rebounds against Annapolis Area Christian High School. Isaiah has had a couple of games early on this year, like against [traditional BCL power] Mt. St. Joseph's, where he was a little overmatched, but for a 14-year-old freshman, he has really held his own for the most part and been pretty productive and consistent."

The sky appears unlimited for Miles.

"He's still growing," assistant coach Geoff Reed said. "Isaiah is only 14 years old. He has huge feet. He wears a 17.5 shoe, and his father is about 6-foot-8, so he could get quite a bit taller."

Miles plays the power forward and center positions for GCS, but Stewart is quick to point out that he frequently plays out on the perimeter and has good floor skills for a young big man.

"We play a four-out, one-in offense, so Isaiah plays out on the perimeter about 80 or 90 percent of the time," Stewart said. "He needs to improve his ballhandling, but he has good range on his jump shot, and he's a pretty good passer. Because he is such a tall, young player, Isaiah tends to play a bit straight-up sometimes; as he grows into his body he'll be a better ball handler and shooter."

A coed K-12 school with only 300 students, Glenelg Country School is better known for its rigorous academics than basketball excellence, but the team is significantly improving its basketball program. GCS is currently a member of the less competitive MIAA B conference, though Stewart hopes that the Dragons will eventually join the A conference.

"Occasionally getting a player like Isaiah will help us elevate our program to that level," Stewart said. "We might bring in another freshman player next year who is the caliber of player that Isaiah is. Our school administration is very supportive of us getting top players who are also excellent students.

"It is possible that Isaiah might reach 6-10, in which case he'd be a college post or power forward, but if he only reaches 6-8, he'll need the skills necessary to be a small forward [or] power forward in college," Stewart said. "So we want to help Isaiah have a complete, face-up perimeter game, as well as a post game."

Miles said that even if he grows to 6-10, he would prefer to play forward rather than center in college.

If Miles keeps growing and improving his skills, the freshman might end up playing in his favorite conference -- the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"My favorite [college] program is North Carolina. My favorite college player is [Tar Heels center] Tyler Hansbrough," Miles said. "I also like the University of Maryland. Those are my two [favorite] college teams. I know [current Terps freshman and former Baltimore prep star] Sean Mosley real well; we're friends."

This season, GCS is off to a 10-9 start (4-7 in B conference play). GCS won the MIAA C conference two years ago but has gradually been improving its talent base and scheduling. With the development of Isaiah Miles, the GCS basketball program will be one of the more interesting stories in Maryland high school basketball for the next few years.

James Quinn covers high school basketball for MDVarsity.com