Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Former Heels Among Youngest Coaches in NCAA D1 Basketball

Greensboro native and former Tar Heel Wes Miller is back at home now as interim coach of UNC – Greensboro.  Miller, who turned 29 last Saturday, started his career at James Madison University where he played 17 minutes a game and scored 4.1 per.

He transferred to North Carolina and eventually played for the National Championship of 2005 as a sophomore.  He saw significant playing time the next year – Tyler Hansbrough’s freshman year - -when he averaged 22 minutes and scored 7.2 points per game.

Miller played professionally for London Capitals of the British Basketball League. He is currently the interim head coach at UNC Greensboro, stepping in for former coach Mike Dement after he resigned on December 13, 2011. Previously, he was an assistant coach at Elon University under head coach, Ernie Nester, for the 2008-2009 season and most recently, an assistant coach under head coach, Scott Cherry, a former UNC player, for the 2009-2010 season.

Miller graduated in 2007 and wrote a book titled The Road to Blue Heaven about his journey from JMU to UNC and his years playing there.  

Recently, Miller’s UNCG team (6-6 since Miller took over, but the winners of five straight conference games) defeated Appalachian State in overtime.  Happy Appy is also coached by a former Tar Heel – Jason Capel.  Miller and Capel are two of the three youngest coaches in Division I basketball.  Capel is the youngest.

Capel was an assistant for former UNC player and now UNC-Wilmington head coach Buzz Peterson at Appalachian prior to being named head coach.  Capel is only one of nine players to ever start for UNC's basketball team in all four years of his eligibility. He led the Tar Heels in scoring in his senior year with 15.6 points per game. He also played in the NCAA Final Four in 2000.

Capel was undrafted in 2002 and briefly made the Charlotte Bobcats' roster, but he never played in an NBA game. He then turned down more lucrative offers in Europe to play basketball in the NBA D-League for the Fayetteville Patriots, a team coached by his father Jeff Capel II. After two years in the D-League (2002–04) he played professionally in Japan, Italy and Serbia until 2007.

From 2007 to 2008, Capel did color on Raycom Sports ACC basketball broadcasts before joining the Appalachian coaching staff in 2009.

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