Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
For the second time in his basketball career, Tory Miller-Stewart entertained the recruiting overtures of Rodney Billups.
Also for the second time, Miller-Stewart was intrigued enough to join Billups’ program.
On Thursday a long-rumored transaction finally became official, as Billups announced his University of Denver men’s basketball program is adding Miller-Stewart, a graduate transfer from Colorado. Miller-Stewart will be eligible for one final season for the Pioneers in 2018-19.
Billups, a former Buffaloes assistant before taking over at his alma mater two years ago, originally recruited Miller-Stewart at CU.
“For me, it was sort of a no-brainer,” Billups said. “I recruited Tory and know what kind of person he is, what kind of student and obviously basketball player he is. It was a no-brainer for me to get a guy like that to into my culture and help with growing our program. Tory is perfect for that.”
Miller-Stewart played just six games this past year before suffering a season-ending broken foot. In a limited sampling he posted career-highs in scoring (6.2), rebounding (4.7) and shooting percentage (.667). He remained eligible for a fifth season, yet the emergence of Lucas Siewert and Dallas Walton during Miller-Stewart’s absence, combined with the expected addition of Evan Battey to the frontcourt rotation, left Miller-Stewart seeking a bigger role for his final collegiate season.
Overall, Miller-Stewart played in 101 games with the Buffs, making 14 starts. The 6-foot-9 forward out of Kansas City averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds.
At DU, Miller-Stewart is expected to fill the role vacated by Daniel Amigo, who was the Pioneers’ second-leading scorer (15.3) and leading rebounder (6.7). Two years ago, when Billups first took over at DU, he entertained the idea of adding former CU player Tre’Shaun Fletcher when he opted to transfer out of the Buffs’ program following the 2015-16 season. But at the time Billups said he couldn’t afford to tie up a roster spot for two seasons with a player who would be on the floor just one season.
With Miller-Stewart eligible immediately as a graduate transfer, Billups had more flexibility in addressing an immediate need.
“Being able to play right away and him replacing Daniel Amigo’s minutes, Tory will get an opportunity to showcase what he can do under a coach that has such familiarity with him and can be patient with him,” Billups said. “After his injury, I thought it would be a perfect marriage. I can be patient with him and he can be patient with me.
“Daniel Amigo was great for us in the sense he could score around the basket, but he also was a jump-shooting big. Tory is the opposite. We need Tory to come in and score around the basket.”
One thing Miller-Stewart will not get to experience at DU is a matchup against his former team. While CU still is finalizing its nonconference schedule, Billups confirmed his Pioneers will not face the Buffs in 2018-19. Billups brought the Pioneers to the CU Events Center in November for the teams’ first matchup in 10 years. Early foul trouble helped limit Miller-Stewart to three points and two rebounds in 17 minutes that night.