In a land many Americans might consider a traveler's paradise, Tory Miller discovered a heaven of sorts for basketball big men.
This past summer, the University of Colorado junior enjoyed an opportunity to travel through Italy with Athletes in Action. Miller made time for plenty of sightseeing and also made the most of an opportunity to compete with other college athletes against international competition.
Yet one of the lasting impressions for Miller was the legal goaltending allowed in Europe. For a 6-foot-9 force in the post, it was a dream come true.
"Goaltending over there is acceptable, so I had a great time over there," Miller said. "I had a lot of blocks. I was the Wesley Gordon over there, making stuff happen. In all seriousness though, I learned a lot from the other guys. Their style of play is a lot different from ours, not using their athleticism as much. It was a fun experience learning a different style of game. I'm glad I got to experience that.
"Every day was like wake up, breakfast, game, have fun. In that order. I was having the time of my life. I got to hoop for two hours a day and then I got to go see Italy for the next 22 hours. I slept a little, but I mean who really sleeps in Italy? It was a good time."
His travel fatigue now well behind him, Miller is focused on helping pick up the inside slack left by the graduation of Josh Scott, a mainstay in the post the past four seasons for the Buffs.
Miller will not replace Scott's 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds all by his lonesome, but don't be surprised to see Miller playing a far more significant role for CU this season. Miller improved from three points a game as a freshman to 5.5 per game last year while making an even bigger jump on the glass, recording 4.6 rebounds per game off the bench after posting just 2.2 per game as a freshman.
Head coach Tad Boyle has lauded the work Miller has done in the weight room and honing his mid-range jumper. Another significant jump in those scoring and rebound numbers is expected of Miller in 2016-17.
"He's explosive. He's running well. He's gotten better every year he's been here and I don't anticipate this year being any different," Boyle said. "I think he's going to make some great strides. With Josh being gone I think it really opens up things guys like Wes and Tory to shine a little bit more. He's rebounding the ball at a high level and around the rim he's really scoring it. He's more comfortable on the perimeter handling it as well.
"The thing about Tory is he's a joy to coach. I can't say that about every player on our team with a straight face. But he truly is a joy to coach because he wants to get better, he listens, he learns. He knows his limitations and if he plays within himself he's going to have a very, very good year and he's going to help us win a lot of games."