Whether it's a steady hand or a demonstrative wave of his arms, Braxton Miller has his finger on the pulse of Marquette's basketball team, knowing just what it needs at any particular moment.
"I've been in those situations," the Blazers junior said. "I love celebrating with my teammates when we're doing well. I think that's a really important piece in the puzzle of a championship-caliber team. I can bring the energy, but I'm not one to get too hyped. I'm usually a calming factor for the team. Sometimes, it's nice to say, 'That's all right. It's just one play.'"
As a freshman, Miller started for Northwood, his double-digit scoring helping the Panthers win a Class 3A sectional title. When his mom took a job in Chicago, it meant pulling up roots and finding a new home closer to the Windy City, but not too far away from Nappanee, where Miller had lived all of his life.
The family relocated to the Michigan City area, and Miller's blend of fire and ice landed at Marquette, where the 6-foot combo guard has contributed to the Blazers' run to Saturday's Class A state championship.
"It wasn't much of a transition," Miller said. "It was hard leaving a lot of my friends, but I was pretty flexible to doing whatever the family needed to do. I like point guard primarily. I have good court vision, which is a big plus. I like to get my teammates involved. It's also nice to score, to put the team in position to win. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do. I just want to win."
Miller averages nine points and three assists per game for Marquette, leading the Blazers with 39 3-pointers.
"The first half of the season, we were playing tight," Marquette coach Donovan Garletts said. "We told them to rein it on defense and start playing loose on offense. They really took it to heart, and they've been playing a totally different game. Braxton is more of a guy who needs to play with the throttle open to be successful."
The 3-pointer became a part of Miller's arsenal back in seventh grade, when he began working on his shooting form.
"I started to develop where I was able to shoot above my head and keep my elbow under," he said. "I try to be as consistent as possible.
"I'm strong enough where I can shoot from pretty much anywhere. If I can keep good form and get my feet under me, I believe I'm going to make the shot. Once one goes in, I get in the flow of the game, and I can put points on the board quick."
Miller did it in the semistate, where he notched eight of his 12 points in the first half, including a pair of 3s.
"Braxton's the type of kid who plays off the crowd, the feel of the game," Garletts said. "When it gets going, he gets going. NorthWood plays pretty much the same style of offense, so he didn't have too much problem adapting. He's fit in perfectly with the school and team."
Five years ago, Miller attended his first state championship, watching Rochester in the 3A title game at Conseco Fieldhouse. It's called Bankers Life Fieldhouse now, and Miller plans to enjoy the view from the court even more.
"It's such a big stage," he said. "It's going to be nice for everybody to be on display, to show the state how we can play, how good of a team we are."