When Brandon Miles left the locker room at Tennessee Tech University on the night of February 12, 2019, he was certain he had played the last basketball game of his career. Something didn’t feel right in the pit of the Cannon County senior’s stomach, and the love for the game he once had just wasn’t what it once was. His team was fresh off a disappointing 17-point loss to border rival, DeKalb County, in the first round of the District 8-AA Tournament, which ended the Lions’ season with a 12-17 record. Needless to say, the season for the Lions didn’t end the way the long-time Cannon County hoops standout had expected.
It took a long talk with first-year CCHS basketball assistant Nick Watson to convince Miles to not only re-think his decision, but to meet with a good friend of Watson’s – Ernesto Ramos, who has spent a quarter century working with players to develop, and in some cases re-develop, their game. Ramos not only helped re-instill Miles’ love for the game, but helped open a door which led to the senior signing a basketball scholarship with Cumberland University on Wednesday (May 8).
PHOTO: Cannon County senior Brandon Miles answers questions from the media, after he signed scholarship papers to continue both his basketball and academic career at Cumberland University in Lebanon. Pictured (L-R) Coach Roger Haley (Westside Elementary), Coach Mark Brown (assistant, Cumberland University), Miles, Coach Nick Watson (CCHS assistant), Coach Ernesto Ramos (South Central Alliance Training Academy)
“Whenever I started thinking about quitting basketball, I had a very self-centered way of looking at it,” Miles recounted, during a press conference at Cannon County High School to announce his signing. “The season ended early, and it wasn’t what I expected it to be. I was very self-centered, not thinking about how I could make myself better, and not looking to see what I had ahead of me. After time, and after working with Coach Ramos, I finally started seeing a better sign of things, which is why I am here right now.”
For a young man who has always been renowned as the ultimate team player, it was refreshing to step back and have a brand new perspective on the game of basketball.
Watch full press conference here:
“When I first saw Brandon, his love for the game had diminished for a variety of (reasons), so I had to pick his brain to see where he wanted to go,” said Coach Ramos, who operates the South Central Alliance Basketball Training Academy out of Clarksville. “I had to evaluate him mentally first, because you have to be psychologically in a sport, before you go forward, and you have to develop an inner love. When I redeveloped that love he had for the game, and made him laugh out there on the court, that was all she wrote. He started traveling long distances just to (work) with me. When I saw that dedication, I knew he was going somewhere. So, I got on the phone and started making some calls.”
One of those calls turned out to be to Cumberland University, and second-year men’s head coach, Jeremy Lewis. Cumberland was instantly intrigued by the Lion senior – who, at about 5’ 11”, had played virtually every position on the court in his four years in Woodbury.
“We were impressed with his overall play,” stated Phoenix assistant coach, Mark Brown, who was in attendance for the signing on Wednesday. “We saw a kid who can be accessible on both ends of the floor. Nowadays, kids just want to stay behind the three-point line or dribble three basketballs, but it’s being accessible on both ends of the floor that will get you playing time. And with Brandon, that’s what really stuck out.”
Both Miles and Coach Brown conceded that Brandon’s likely position on the floor at Cumberland will be a point guard/shooting guard combo, the position Miles settled into his senior season with the Lions.
While it was his play at Cannon County, and his work with Coach Ramos that earned him a notice, and eventually, a scholarship from Cumberland, Miles’ roots in the game go all the way back to his days as a student at Westside Elementary. Miles admitted that it was Eagles head coach Roger Haley who first brought about his love of the game, and Coach Haley said Miles was a student of the game from the time he was in Kindergarten or First Grade, when he became a manager for the team.
“By third and fourth grade, he (Miles) was drawing up plays for me during the game, to help us win the game,” Haley noted, with a smile. “His asset is his knowledge of the game, and what makes him special is the way he treats his teammates. You can have good players, but if they don’t treat their teammates right, then they’re not such good players. He’s taken a lot of players under his wing and he’s helped our program at Westside tremendously.”
“What Coach Haley brought up is exactly right,” added Coach Watson, who Miles credited for helping him through some tough times this past season. “I remember, he was injured one game and couldn’t play. We won that night, and he was there, all night, sitting beside me, cheering on his teammates. He knows the game, and with a little more work, he will be a big asset to Cumberland University.”
The Phoenix, an NAIA program and member of the Mid-South Conference, finished 11-15 in Coach Lewis’ first year with the men’s program. Lewis spent nine seasons as head coach of the women’s program at Cumberland, and has notched 13 seasons overall with his alma mater.
Miles is the second CCHS student athlete to sign scholarship papers with Cumberland University this week, joining fellow senior, Camden Davis, who signed a soccer scholarship on Monday. Two more Lions – Garrett Alexander and Jacob Raines – committed and signed with the Phoenix baseball program back in February.