Devin Miller got A-listed last week.
Hagerstown Community College’s sophomore forward had been selected to the NJCAA Division I All-American team. The word popped up on his doorstep, like a Candygram in the middle of the night.
And like a Candygram, it was a total surprise and pretty sweet.
Out of nowhere, Miller found out he was considered in the top 20 of a group of 49 of the best junior college players in the country.
With the All-American notification, Miller moved into some cozy company at HCC. He became the third head in the Hawks’ Mount Rushmore of men’s basketball players, next to Dexter Boney and Bernard Hopkins, a pair of players who helped put HCC on the map in the 1990s.
Both left Hagerstown to attend four-year schools — Boney to UNLV in 1991 and Hopkins to Virginia Commonwealth in 1994.
Both went on to play pro basketball — Boney had a cup of coffee with the Phoenix Suns before becoming a CBA star and Hopkins has spent the majority of his career playing in Spain, where he is now in his 15th year and has become an icon.
There is one thing all three have in common.
“Devin is like Bernard because he quietly did things to win games,” said HCC coach Barry Brown. “Devin and Dexter had the ability to score. But all three of them won championships here.”
The chance to attend and play for a four-year school and the possibility of playing professionally — like Boney and Hopkins — are obviously in the back of Miller’s mind.
Those are the objectives of any player at this level.
It gets even closer when your name pops up on an All-American list. Brown anticipates an onslaught of inquiries about Miller in the coming weeks because of the “Candygram.”
But it is Brown’s hope that Miller continues to work to reach an even more prestigious list, that of former HCC basketball players who recieved a degree.
“All these guys worry about getting to a Division I school to play for a chance to make it to the pros,” Brown said. “I tell them that nowadays, it doesn’t matter where you play. You can can become a pro no matter where you play. It’s more important to get that degree.
“Years from now, when I see them again, that’s the accomplishment I want to see.”
For every Boney and Hopkins, there are countless HCC athletes who had the sports bus stop at the gate of graduation. They took advantage of physical talents to get the education.
Reggie Truitt and Lamont Dale are two of those players.
Truitt played at HCC in the 1980s before transferring to UMBC. Now he is a Mid-Atlantic vice president for Foot Locker.
Dale played at HCC in the same period as Boney and Hopkins and continued his education at Texas Tech. He is presently the manager of the Roadway terminal in Brooklyn, the largest facility in New York.
“They were both the hardest workers on the court,” Brown said. “They took that off the court and took what the learned from athletics to become successes in their careers.
“I want good things for Devin. The No. 1 priority is to continue his education. The accolades you receive for playing at the highest level are wonderful, but the highest accolade you can get is a degree.”
A couple of weeks ago, Kentucky’s “one and done” method of winning college basketball’s national championship came under scrutiny. Wildcat players have been coming to Lexington for one season as a pit stop before heading to the NBA.
It is a different level at HCC, but it is also a different attitude, more like “two and get through.”
Miller has come to realize it.
“This has all been an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Miller said. “I learned a lot and it helped me grow up. This is a stepping stone.”
Devin Miller has figured out that basketball is a vehicle to greater things. The All-American selection is another fantastic stepping stone.
It is one that could eventually land him on HCC’s most prestigious list of all — athletes who used sports to become a shining success in life.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.