The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 09, 2020 1:00 am

Miles Jr. helping on offense, defense

Team has surged since his acquisition

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Daxter Miles Jr. has averaged 15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 10 games with the Mad Ants.

Not bad for a midseason pickup.

But he's meant more to the Mad Ants than just his scoring.

“He's meant a lot,” Stephan Hicks said. “His tenacity on defense and physicality on defense, it helps. Having a guy like that is huge.

“He's coming from West Virginia (where he played 2014 to 2018) and they're known for that defense and that fight, so it's been huge having him on this squad.”

Miles started 124 games for the Mountaineers, second in program history to Johannes Herber.

Miles is averaging 1.4 steals per game with Fort Wayne and the Mad Ants have won 7 of 10 games since his acquisition, putting them at 16-16 heading into today's 3 p.m. game at Memorial Coliseum against the Delaware Blue Coats.

“I really like this team,” said Miles, 24, a 6-foot-3 guard. “I like the style of coaching. There are good guys on the team. There are a lot of vets to talk you through stuff. So, it's a lot different.”

Miles had been with the Northern Arizona Suns, averaging 15 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals in in 21 games before he was acquired by the Mad Ants for Ike Nwamu.

Nwamu had been averaging 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists. With Northern Arizona, he's averaging 18.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 11 games.

The Mad Ants have made other key acquisitions during the season, including Ben Moore and Scoochie Smith, and Miles has been big in important spots.

That includes a 29-point effort, all in the second half, of Fort Wayne's comeback from 35 points down to beat Canton 124-118 on Feb. 1 at the Coliseum.

“There are vets here and they talk to you throughout the whole game, whether it's going bad or good, and they just keep talking to you and you have to keep your head,” Miles said. “You're not going to hit shots every night, but you can honestly play defense every night.”

The Mad Ants are coming off a 127-119 loss to conference-leading Wisconsin on Friday, but they have won seven of their last nine games. Delaware (18-13) has won four of its last seven games.

With Naz Mitrou-Long still on a minutes restriction in the wake of his ankle injury, and Walt Lemon Jr. likely to take paternity leave any day, players such as Smith and Miles will continue to have great importance.

Miles said it wasn't difficult to integrate into the roster during the season, so he's optimistic about the future.

“Not really, it's just learning the plays,” he said. “It was pretty easy to get adjusted to everything because they let you find your own way here. They don't really pressure you too much.”

Note: The NBA's Indiana Pacers are expected to assign Goga Bitadze, their rookie first-round pick, to the Mad Ants for today's game.

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