Miller a boon to Hampton High program

Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent

   Joe Miller only expected his son Adam to be a good boy. "I just told him that whatever grades he made in his academics would be acceptable, provided he gave a good effort, but I was much more concerned with his conduct," he said.
   Adam Miller was a good kid. And now? "Now he's a fine young man," Joe Miller said. The only thing I demanded A's in: conduct. If he were well-behaved, then everything else would take care of itself."
   Well, everything else has worked out just fine. Adam Miller made all A's in conduct and has made A's in almost everything else he's taken since his early years - well, almost.
   "There was this once," Joe Miller said, "that he came home with all A's, and in everything - well, in everything except for one B in conduct. We had a little talk, and it's been A's in conduct ever since."
   Adam Miller is the leader of the Hampton Bulldogs basketball team. The senior post player is the beat of the heart where leadership is concerned. "You have to have a leader," said Bulldogs assistant coach, Kelly Oliver. "Adam brings that. He has confidence, and it shows in his play and in the classroom."
   It shows in the classroom indeed. Adam is more than a student of "good conduct." He carries a 3.95 GPA in his studies, and when matched with his 26 ACT score, and of course, all A's in conduct, then you have a scholarship recipient.
   Miller will attend Tusculum College this fall, on scholarship. His grades, ACT, and conduct have staged Adam to secure a quality education and financial stability. His conduct has played no small part in his development.
   "He has a great attitude," said Hampton head coach Bud Hazelwood, "and he's very smart. He can come out front and shoot, or take it hard to the basket. He means a lot to our team."
   At 6'2", 235 pounds, Miller looks more like a linebacker than a power forward. However, basketball - that's the game he's played and loved, practically since junior cadet. "That and baseball," he said. "I love baseball."
   But Miller wasn't a sure bet to lead his team into the district tournament his senior season, certainly not when he was a freshman. While in summer camp in North Carolina, Adam suffered a serious leg injury. "I didn't expect he'd play, at least not for a long time," Oliver said.
   "It was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome," Adam said. "I wanted to play so badly, but the time on the bench taught me a lot about patience, and I learned more about the game while watching. It sure was frustrating."
   "It was really hard for him," said Miller's mother, Sandra Wallace. "He's always been able to overcome obstacles, and this was no exception. He's a quick study, that's for sure. He's brave, courageous and faces the world head on; that's his way, his approach," Wallace continued.
   Adam has had to face a lot of obstacles. There was the broken leg to begin his now outstanding high school basketball career. Then there was the divorce of his parents.
   "One thing about mom and dad, they've both been outstanding in seeing to our needs. My brother Jonah and I have always come first, and for both of them. Things just didn't work out with their marriage, but I truly have outstanding parents. They do everything for us. I love them both so very much."
   Will things work out against the Blue Devils of Unicoi this weekend? "Well, one way or the other. We know it's do or die, they know it's do or die. We feel that we can beat them, and I'm sure they feel that they can end our season. It's really as simple as that," Miller stated bluntly. "We'll just have to give it our best shot."
   Sandra Wallace warned that he was blunt. "He's really very nice, but also outspoken," she said. "He has his opinions, but he tries to be very respectful while articulating those opinions. He's not shy, not by any stretch of the imagination, and he makes friends easily - but he always speaks his mind, and without hesitation."
   When he's not on the court or baseball diamond, Miller is content just about anywhere; that's just his way.
   "He loves to shoot pool, play XBox and going."
   Going, Mrs. Wallace? "Yes, going. Somewhere, anywhere, always on the go. Just take him where there's pizza, Chinese food or steak, and of course chocolate, and Adam is content. Oh, and music, he loves music....loud music."
   Yes, going. However, last fall, Adam's goings nearly got the best of him. "Yeah, it was a close call, that's for sure," said Hampton's star quarterback, Mitchell Morton.
   "We were lucky to get out of that one alive," Morton said, referring to the very serious automobile accident that he and his closest friend, Miller, were recently involved in.
   "It took them two hours to get that truck back up the bank," Joe Miller recalled. "There were times when I needed him more than he needed me."
   Joe was forced out of his investigator's job due to a heart condition, which resulted in four heart attacks. "Adam has inspired me to get through so many ailments, even open heart surgery, just by his own display of courage."
   "Coach Hazelwood is doing a good job of coaching in such a competitive conference," Miller said. "There are no easy games, not for anyone."
   Miller's statement is full of truth. The Bulldogs have beaten Volunteer, Elizabethton, Sullivan North and Sullivan Central in proving themselves competitive in this very balanced conference.
   Who taught Adam to love the game of basketball? "Without a doubt, Leon Tolley," Miller said. Leon Tolley, the one whose wife just gave birth to little Ryan Jamison Tolley Wednesday afternoon?
   "The same one, that Leon Tolley," Sandra Wallace concurred. "He's meant so much to Adam."