Keaton Miles has the physical tools to have a serious impact on the West Virginia basketball team.
He showed flashes of that last season, providing some dunks and blocks that brought the crowd to its feet. Yet, he was just a freshman, and for most of the season, he played like it.
A lack of experience led to a lack of confidence for Miles, and he admits that was part of the reason he contributed just 1.4 points per game in his first season as a Mountaineer. He has that year under his belt now, though, and as he participates in some summer league games, he can already tell a difference in his game so far.
"I really can't explain what it is," said Miles. "It's pretty much more of a feeling you get on the court- a more confident feeling. I feel more confident going into next year and preparing my body and my mind, and I think it was more mental for me last year than anything."
Most schools not named Kentucky have to deal with the growing pains that come with playing freshmen, and Bob Huggins certainly had to play his fair share of them last season.
All of those players are a year older now, and Miles says they have a better idea this summer of what faces them compared to last summer.
"Last year, a lot of us learned a lot of different things about the style of play," he said. "Last year, we went into college basketball wide open, just wide-eyed, and tried to find our niche. This year, we'll be able to come in and we have a better understanding of what to prepare for and how to prepare for it, so hopefully, we have a more successful season this year."
Part of this team's plan for the upcoming season is to push the ball up the court more. That's been evident thus far in the summer, and it's something that Miles says he's comfortable with.
"He wants us to run and get the rebound," he said. "Whoever gets it, everybody's talented enough to dribble and skilled enough to dribble, so we want to get it and push it. That's something we want to work on in open gym, at the practice facility or here, just try to get into that motion of doing that style of game."
Even when Miles was having trouble getting shots to fall last season, he was a consistent defender for his team, which helped him earn 30 starts on the year. Now, he's working hard on his jump shot in order to add that extra element to his game.
"I've been working on it," he said. "That's something that I want to add to my game and be able to contribute a little more on the scoring end of it and also on defense and rebounding."
That doesn't necessarily mean that he's completely trying to change his game, though. There are other players on this team that are capable of scoring, and if it doesn't have to be Miles, he doesn't plan on forcing it. The season ended with a thud in the NCAA Tournament, and the Mountaineers are looking to do anything they can to earn more wins and play deeper into the postseason.
"It's really not about my own shot," Miles said. "Everyone else on this team contributes as much as possible and I believe that with me scoring a little bit more, it could contribute to the team, but if that's not my role, then that's not my role. I want to be able to get wins. That's point blank. I want to get the 'W' before worrying about myself or anything."
Last year at this time, we were talking about the incoming freshmen and how their first season wearing a West Virginia uniform may go. The team is still young, but they're all a year into their careers now, and according to Miles, that experience is providing them with some needed confidence.