Heading into the first Under Armour Association event in New York last spring, Miller Kopp held offers from Murray State, Rice, UT-Arlington and Youngstown State. In two games for the Houston Defenders that weekend, Kopp put up 37 points on 41 shots. Efficient or not, that was enough for Chris Collins.
“He said all it took was one time for him to see me play and he knew I was his guy, a guy he wanted to coach,” Kopp told Inside NU.
Collins may have been the first major coach to take note of Kopp’s talent, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Following a summer that saw Kopp lead the Under Armour Association in points per game, the Houston native had nearly 40 offers, including spots at Vanderbilt, Butler, and Georgetown.
“It was something that pretty crazy at first, but it was good to see the hard work pay off,” Kopp said.
The 6-foot-7 wing visited Evanston in mid-September.
“Everything went right,” Kopp said, citing the men’s basketball team’s chemistry as a major factor in his decision. “Something I really took into account was how the team bonded and how they kind of took me in even though I hadn't committed yet, they still kinda treated me like one of them.”
Kopp committed to Northwestern on September 21st, joining a 2018 recruiting class that is ranked 11th in the country by 247Sports and is indisputably the most highly-regarded in program history. The consensus four-star recruit is ranked 97th in his class by Rivals, 100th by ESPN, and 101st by Rivals.
Following his commitment to Northwestern, Kopp broke down the strengths and weaknesses of his game, as well as what Wildcat fans can expect to see during his career.
Kopp’s most discernible skill is his shooting. Just how much of a knockdown shooter the Houston Christian star is remains a little difficult to tease out, as Kopp only shot 28 percent from deep on six attempts per game this summer. With that being said, Kopp possesses the mechanics any great shooter has, with a smooth release and great body control. After gathering the ball in transition, watch how he seamlessly squares his feet and body towards the basket.
Asked to provide an NBA comparison for himself, Kopp mentioned Boston Celtics wing Gordon Hayward, citing the offensive versatility the two players share.
“I'm a guy who can score at all three levels,” Kopp said. “Shoot the three, score in the midrange, score at the rim. I think that is one of my strong suits.”
Hayward is able to find space by intuitively moving without the ball and utilizing precise footwork. In the below clip, he slips a back screen for Joe Ingles to gain a step on his defender.
Shooting through a handoff, Hayward stops on a dime and gets the shot off before DeAndre Jordan can properly contest the jumper.
Kopp shows a similar knack for body control in his AAU tape. Check out the small deke Kopp shows his defender as he inbounds the ball. That’s all the sharpshooter needs to create enough space for an open three.
In the second clip, Kopp starts to make an Iverson cut, heading towards a high screen at the elbow. The defender doesn’t keep his eyes up, so when Kopp darts back towards the sideline, he’s wide open. Clearly, Kopp can create his own space off the ball to get an open look.
Call me crazy, but in the two clips above, Kopp reminds me a little bit of Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson in the way he always keeps his feet moving and features a quick release. Get Kopp running around screens and moving off the ball, and he could become a lethal ancillary weapon from deep for Northwestern.
Most of Kopp’s highlights showcase his prowess from beyond the arc, but the Texan has been working on his inside game as well. He takes pride in the time he puts in the gym (his vertical has increased ten inches in one year) and the strength he’s been building over the past year. If Kopp’s six free throw attempts per game this summer are any indicator, his hard work off the court has helped him in the paint.
[Scoring in the paint is something] that I've worked on and I've talked to Coach Collins about working on — being able to post up smaller guys in the paint and get to the free throw line easily,” Kopp said.
While leading the Under Armour Association with 20.2 points per game this summer, Kopp displayed the foundations of an improved interior game. The threat of Kopp’s jumper is enough to draw opponents out to the three-point line, and a simple ball fake can be all the wing needs to get to the rim.
Kopp’s exemplary footwork is on display, as he uses his pivot foot well to slide around his defender into the paint.
Heading into his senior year, Kopp said he hopes to develop his ball-handling and playmaking skills.
“On the teams I've played on, I've been needing to score and score the ball at a high rate so I think one thing for me is being able to pass and make the best decision, make the right decision and be a playmaker,” Kopp said.
Expecting Kopp to arrive on campus with B-Mac-esque playmaking skills is unreasonable. However, making a concerted effort to become a better distributor of the ball over the next year will go a long way towards seeing the floor as a freshman. where he’ll be competing for minutes at the wing with Vic Law, AJ Turner, Anthony Gaines, Rapolas Ivanauskas, and Aaron Falzon.
Competition won’t be a problem for Kopp. Growing up with three brothers, Kopp never developed an “off” switch.
“I'm a crazy competitor,” Kopp said. “Someone who, every time they step on the court, is going to want to win, no matter if its H.O.R.S.E. or a game.”
Unafraid to wear his heart on his sleeve on the court, a common theme from Kopp’s tape is a big fist pump and shout after a basket.
Asked how his emotion will factor into Big Ten road games, Kopp seemed excited at the prospect of a rowdy opposing student section.
“Honestly I think it's going to be awesome. Those are the kinds of game I think that I thrive in and I play best in,” he said.
As for what Wildcat fans can expect from Kopp come 2018? It boils down to one word: energy.
“I'm going to get them pumped up and they're going to get me pumped up,” Kopp said.