Boys basketball: Niwot hires Shining Mountain coach Enoch Miller

Shining Mountain boys basketball coach Enoch Miller was hired this week to take over the program at Niwot High School.
Shining Mountain boys basketball coach Enoch Miller was hired this week to take over the program at Niwot High School.

Although he still is considered a young coach, Enoch Miller already has compiled a sparkling resume.

Miller won two state basketball titles as a player more than a decade ago and very nearly won another as a coach last month. He served as an assistant under former Metro State legend Mike Dunlap, who was fired Tuesday as head coach of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, and displayed a knack for getting the most out of his available talent during three resoundingly successful seasons at Shining Mountain.

Now Miller hopes to continue that impressive career arc at Niwot.

On Wednesday, Niwot athletic director Jim Butterfield announced that Miller will take over the Cougars’ boys basketball program less than six weeks after Miller led Shining Mountain to the Class 1A title game.

“The biggest thing for me is that basketball is my passion,” Miller said. “I’m not out there doing much bowling. I spend all my free time on it. My goal is to build a program, and I’m looking forward to that opportunity at Niwot.

“Shining Mountain has been great. This last year was probably the most fun I’ve had coaching basketball in 12 years. But I think the fact that they have 20 sports there (at Niwot) is very attractive. Many have been successful and they have a great reputation. They have smart kids who work hard at what they do, similar to Shining Mountain.”

Miller, a part of Belleview Christian’s back-to-back Class 1A title teams in 1999 and 2000, compiled a 59-12 coaching record during his three-year tenure at Shining Mountain. That includes a 23-3 mark this past season, which ended with a loss to McClave in the 1A state championship game.

He inherits a Niwot club that went 34-38 in three seasons under former coach Travis Maron, who resigned at the end of this past season while citing an uncomfortable level of disconnect between himself and some parents of team members. Niwot won 13 games in each of Maron’s first two seasons, including a 2011-12 campaign that included the Cougars’ first postseason win in four years.

But Niwot experienced a drop-off this year after losing 2012 Longmont Times-Call Player of the Year Henry Sebesta, going 8-15 overall and just 3-11 in the Class 4A Northern League. Miller takes over a program that expects to welcome back leading scorer Clarke Colwell but loses three seniors — Nate Merriman, Forrest Lee and Jordan Keeler — who contributed a combined 27.1 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.

Butterfield said Miller continued to set himself apart from the pack throughout the school’s search process.

“At first blush, I was very impressed with his experience,” Butterfield said. “He was confident. He was articulate. And he was very thorough. On our second blush, with our screening committee he presented himself very well. He’s a basketball junkie, if you will. The third piece was when he met with our principal and I, and he just had a very clear vision of what he hoped to achieve at Niwot. 

“It was the complete package we were impressed with. We had a lot of numbers for the job and he kept rising to the top.” 

Butterfield said that of the original 40 resumes he received for the position, that group was whittled to 15 due to various factors, particularly the fact that there was no correlating teaching position available. That group eventually was reduced to two finalists before Miller was offered the job. 

Butterfield said the parental factors cited by Maron, and that contributed to former football coach Ron Tesone’s resignation last year, were addressed during the interview process. Yet the Niwot AD was clear that issue was not discussed with any more detail than it has been with any other interview he has conducted.

“We expect more from high school athletics in the last 12 to 15 years, and as a society, we expect more from public education,” said Butterfield, who stated that students, parents, and various school personnel all were part of the search committee. “We try to keep the parents as part of the conversation. Does that mean we always agree? No. But that’s always part of the process. I don’t think it was any more of an issue in these conversations (with Miller) than it has been with any other coach we’ve hired.” 

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