Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Instincts, intangibles set Central-Southeastern’s Miller apart more than numbers, accolades

Lauren Miller

Central-Southeastern junior forward Lauren Miller, who led the Panthers to a 29-3 record, has been named the Muddy River Sports 2023-34 Girls Basketball Player of the Year. | Matt Schuckman photo

CAMP POINT, Ill. — As good as Lauren Miller’s statistical resume is, the numbers alone don’t set her apart.

Nor do the postseason accolades, which proved be across-the-board impressive when you realize the Central-Southeastern junior forward was considered one of the 10 best Class 2A girls basketball players in the state by two different organizations.

You have to go beyond the boxscore to fully appreciate Miller’s game.

The 5-foot-10 all-stater reads the floor, the defense and the situation as well as anyone, which explains how she ends up in the right place at the right time so often. She senses when and how a shot is going to carom off the rim and puts herself in position for a rebound.

She jumps passing lanes defensively, yet recovers quickly in order not to get beat.

It’s her footwork, quickness, instincts and toughness that are unmatched.

Sure, Miller scores from here, there, everywhere. She averaged 18.2 points and shot 55.3 percent from the field, leading the Panthers to a 21-game win streak and a 29-3 record overall. The season ended in the Class 2A elite eight, but not without Miller and the Panthers putting up a fight.

She scored 16 points in the 41-32 loss to Nashville in the Vandalia Super-Sectional, digging in until the very last possession.

Miller is a gamer through and through. A multi-sport athlete, she possesses the intangibles it takes to succeed at a high level. She averaged 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.1 assists, playing both ends of the floor equally as hard.

No wonder NCAA Division I programs such as Lindenwood and Western Illinois University are recruiting her and Quincy University coach Courtney Boyd has made her a high-priority target.

She’s a game-changer for a program attempting to keep fans in West-Central Illinois engaged.

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association named Miller to the 10-player Class 2A all-state first team and the Illinois Media named her to its Class 2A all-state second team. Since the media all-state team places only five players on each team, it makes her one of the 10 best Class 2A players.

She became the first player in the history of the Central-Southeastern program to be named the KHQA Player of the Year and now adds the Muddy River Sports 2023-24 Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor to the resume.

Central-Southeastern junior forward Lauren Miller averaged 18.2 points per game in earning all-state honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and the Illinois Media. | Matt Schuckman photo

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