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Danny Miles

OIT coach Danny Miles recounts HOF experience

Danny Miles will forever remember this past weekend, and now he’ll forever be remembered.

The legendary Oregon Tech men’s basketball coach was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Kansas City.

The 1963 Medford High graduate joined the class of 2018 with Arkansas’ Otis Birdsong, Arizona’s Sean Elliott, Houston’s Sidney Moncrief, North Carolina’s Sam Perkins, the late Marvin Webster of Morgan State, USC’s Paul Westphal and former Charleston coach John Kresse.

“I got a picture with (Perkins),” said the 73-year-old Miles, who lives in Jacksonville. “He’s huge and I’m 5-7. He had a lot of family there and ours was there, and we got to know each other. I got to know Paul Westphal, Sidney and Otis and John. Sean Elliott was only there one day. All eight of us got to know each other. They are all really great men. ... This was the 13th class. The first class had John Wooden and all those guys. There are about 65 of them from the first one.

“Every year since, about six to eight guys get put in, and all the classes are on a wall (inside the College Basketball Experience (CBE), a facility adjacent to Kansas City’s Sprint Center).”

Visitors at the Hall can access videos of all the inductees, including Miles. Considering 1.2 million people visited last year, it’s likely many more people will learn of Miles’ record-setting career in Klamath Falls.

“It’s pretty special what they are doing,” Miles said of the facility.

During his 45 years as head coach at OIT, Miles guided the Owls to NAIA Division II national titles in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He captured his 1,000 victory in 2014 and wrapped up his career with 1,040 wins, the fourth highest total among all NCAA and NAIA coaches.

He was the NAIA coach of the year in 2004 and 2008.

His teams consistently excelled, as the Owls averaged 23 wins per season under Miles.

About six months ago, Miles got an important phone call. He thought it was a telemarketer at first, but it turned out to be Jim Haney, the former University of Oregon coach and current executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Haney was reaching out to inform Miles that he was Hall of Fame bound.

The buildup to the ceremony became a reality on Saturday, when Miles and about two dozen of his family members and friends made the journey to Missouri. The weekend kicked off with the coach hosting a clinic for 120 children.

“They were on the main court at the Sprint Center,” he said. “They were boys and girls ages 9-12. I told them not to give up because of their size. They could have a growth spurt in the next five years, so if you are 6-foot-2 or 5-0, 100 pounds, don’t give up because of your size. I also spoke of the importance of being a multi-sport athlete. You need to learn to compete in two or three sports. I talked about commitment and what it takes to become a great player. (I also talked about) practicing good habits, good grades and good attitude.”

After that, Miles toured the Hall of Fame with his party.

“It’s just a wonderful place,” said the former standout three-sport athlete at Medford High and Southern Oregon University. “It was pretty special.”

Next came the day of recognition, with Miles receiving a large gold medal with red ribbon as camera lights flashed during the Sunday induction.

Rather giving speeches, inductees were featured in a televised interview with basketball analysts Clark Kellogg and Doug Gottlieb.

“The format is neat now,” said Miles, who is an athletic advisor at Cascade Christian High. “A lot of Hall of Fame events are going away from speeches where, four hours later, people get bored. This was Johnny Carson style where they asked us questions for about 10 minutes. There were a lot of cameras.

“The first question they asked me was what my favorite win was. I had to think about that. ... I was familiar with Clark when he was emcee for the John Wooden award. He asked some great questions and I felt very comfortable around him.”

Also during the weekend, Miles spoke to about 120 people at an NAIA function nearby.

On Monday, during halftime of Nebraska’s 85-62 win over Missouri State in the Hall of Fame Classic, Miles was introduced and interviewed for the Sprint Center crowd to see. He went on to watch Texas Tech beat USC that night, 78-63.

Highlights of Sunday’s induction ceremony were featured Monday and Tuesday night during coverage of the tournament on ESPN 2.

“It was an honor,” Miles said.

Reach freelance writer Dan Jones at dljcards@gmail.com.

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