Even as a freshman, Brooklynn Miles is making a meaningful contribution on one of the best teams in women’s college basketball.
The former standout guard at Franklin County — and the 2021 Miss Kentucky Basketball winner — is averaging more than 21 minutes per game as a bench option for Tennessee, which owns a 16-1 overall record, a 5-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play and was ranked No. 5 in the country in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The 5-foot-4 Miles is averaging about three points and three rebounds per contest for the Lady Volunteers, but her calling card so far in her college career has come with ball distribution and defense. Miles is third on the Tennessee team this season in both total assists (40) and steals (15).
“You have to make sure you know your role and play it, but definitely what’s made it easier and better for me is my coaches and my teammates,” Miles told the Herald-Leader. “They kept me confident since I got here and then my coaches are always on my tail about everything, which makes me better as a person.”
Miles said her connection with Tennessee Coach Kellie Harper has helped fuel this strong start.
“She was a great former point guard and we feel like we just think the same thing at times,” Miles said. “I can just look at her and know exactly what she’s thinking.”
Miles described Sunday’s upcoming game between Tennessee and No. 19 Kentucky as one she is excited for, and also a matchup that will come with emotion inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.
One of the things that has struck Miles — who is the first Miss Kentucky Basketball to go to Tennessee since Lisa Harrison in 1989 — about her experience with the Lady Volunteers so far as been the fan support.
Tennessee has averaged nearly 7,150 fans across 11 home game so far this season.
“I didn’t know (there were) actually this many fans and the fan base is this crazy. But yeah, that’s definitely been an upside … they always have your back,” Miles said. “Then my teammates, they’re just amazing. So I always shout-out them because they’ve made this transition way easier.”
Miles isn’t the only former Miss Kentucky Basketball who is impressing at the college level, though.
All five former Miss Kentucky Basketball award winners still playing in college, including Miles, have found moments of success on the hardwood at the next level.
The Herald-Leader caught up with them to provide a look at what they’ve been up to.
Maddie Scherr (Oregon)
Miss Basketball 2020 at Ryle: It didn’t take Scherr long to establish herself at one of the premier women’s college basketball programs in the country.
A top-20 recruit in the class of 2020 as ranked by ESPN, Scherr averaged 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a senior at Ryle High School in northern Kentucky. As a junior at Ryle, Scherr led the school to its first state title in 2019.
Scherr stepped into the rotation right away at Oregon as a freshman, playing in 22 of the team’s 24 games last season while starting the final four contests.
“Something my dad always told me before I got to college is (that) college is a clean slate. Nobody cares about any of that stuff,” Scherr said about going to Oregon with high school accolades. “Everybody wants to play and compete and (you’ve) kind of got to hit that reset button and do it all over again, really.”
Scherr became Oregon’s starting point guard ahead of the team’s postseason run last season, helping guide the Ducks to the school’s fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance.
That has led to a full-time starting role for Scherr with the Ducks this season. She has started all 13 games and leads the team in assists (59) and steals (21) in addition to shooting 40.6% from three-point range.
“I think I am a natural point guard. I’ve always been this way. I like to get assists. I like to feed people the ball. I have a good IQ of seeing my players, finding people out,” said Scherr, who averages 7.3 points per game. “It took a lot for me to get comfortable in that. I think as a freshman, it was really hard. When you’re a point guard, you have the ball in your hands, you’re going to get some turnovers, so overcoming that and kind of remembering (to) still be confident and know what you can do.”
In addition to her stellar on-court play, Scherr has also taken advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities as a college athlete with a significant social media following.
Across three major social media platforms — Instagram, TikTok and Twitter — Scherr has more than 48,000 combined followers. Several sponsored social media posts adorn Scherr’s social media pages as part of her NIL opportunities.
“I think it’s been a huge deal and definitely with the amount of time that we put into our sport, it’s great to have that opportunity to kind of make some money on the side,” Scherr said. “I think about how I’ve trained literally since I was in the fifth grade for this moment. And it’s like, ‘Wow, I can get paid now too because of this.’”
Savannah Wheeler (Marshall)
Miss Basketball 2019 at Boyd County: Wheeler averaged more than 31 points per game as a high school senior at Boyd County on her way to becoming Miss Kentucky Basketball in 2019, and finished her high school career with 3,621 points. As of August, Wheeler is ranked sixth all-time in points scored in KHSAA girls’ basketball history.
That scoring ability translated to the Division I level. Wheeler was a Conference USA All-Freshman team selection for the 2019-20 season after leading Marshall in scoring (13.4 points per game), field goals made (113) and assists per game (2.8).
Last season, Wheeler was a second-team All-Conference USA selection who again led Marshall in scoring with 17.0 points per game and a team-best 36 three-pointers.
“I told myself coming here, I’m not wanting to force anything, just play my game and all the coaches that I’ve been with just helped me build up to the player that I am today,” Wheeler said. “Just not even thinking, don’t even like overthink it, just play and that’s how I’ve been since high school and up to now.”
Wheeler played point guard for the Thundering Herd during her first two college seasons, but she moved to shooting guard this season after former Xavier guard Aaliyah Dunham transferred to Marshall.
The position switch has only led to more scoring from Wheeler, who is averaging 20.5 points per game this season and set a career high with a 40-point showing in a December win over Oakland in Las Vegas. Her scoring average ranked in the top 20 in the country as of Friday morning.
Wheeler, who stands 5-foot-6, said that in addition to improving her defense during her college career, she has also added more offensive moves like floaters and pull-up shots.
The distance from Boyd County High School to Marshall’s Cam Henderson Center is less than 20 miles across the river separating Kentucky and West Virginia. Being so close to home has allowed Wheeler to see plenty of familiar faces at her games, whether they’re from Boyd County or from Lawrence County, where her grandparents live.
“You just have to treat it like a job. It’s just every day, it’s just you have a routine and you just have to stick with it up until when you graduate,” Wheeler said of settling in at Marshall. “It’s been a big help for me, just for my family and friends to come watch. Overall, it’s just been a good experience so far. And I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to just cross the bridge and just play for Marshall.”
Seygan Robins (UT Martin)
Miss Basketball 2018 at Mercer County: Robins had a particularly storied career at Mercer County, as she finished with more than 2,500 points, 800 assists and 500 steals while leading the school to consecutive state titles in 2017 and 2018.
But setbacks have saddled Robins so far in her college career, which started at Louisville.
She played sparingly during her freshman season and was only able to play in two games as a sophomore before an ankle injury forced season-ending surgery.
Given the injury, the COVID-19 pandemic and high-ranked recruits that would soon join an already elite Louisville program, Robins made the choice to seek a new school.
“I just thought that my chances of seeing the court were probably pretty low, and so I was kind of anxious to see the court,” Robins said.
Once she landed at UT Martin, Robins was able to display her skills.
Last season, her first with the Skyhawks, Robins started 27 of the team’s 28 games and averaged 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.9 minutes.
“I think that my last year here being my third year of college basketball, I’ve kind of started to figure it out,” Robins explained. “I learned a lot at Louisville in terms of just what it takes to be successful and I watched a lot of people above me that had really good work ethics and spent a lot of time in the gym and so I think that really helped me to build my game.”
Robins has only played in five games this season for the Skyhawks, though, after breaking her foot in late November.
But after recovery and rehab, Robins returned to practice this week and is hoping to return to game action next week.
“It being taken away from me gives me a little more appreciation for the game and so I’m just excited to come back and try to help out my teammates,” Robins said. “I think just staying positive is a big thing … trying to keep my mind focused on what I can do to get back on the court as soon as possible instead of dwelling on my situation.”
Lindsey Duvall (Northern Kentucky)
Miss Basketball 2017 at Bullitt East: Like Robins, Duvall — who originally committed to Kentucky — also began her college career at Louisville before transferring to a mid-major program.
Duvall averaged more than 23 points and eight rebounds per game as a senior at Bullitt East, remarkable considering Duvall missed most of her junior season in high school after she had a tumor removed from below her left knee.
She redshirted her freshman season at Louisville due to a knee injury, and she played limited minutes during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons with the Cardinals.
But after transferring to Northern Kentucky ahead of the 2020-21 season, Duvall saw her playing time and role expand. She was named an All-Horizon League second-team selection last season after leading the Norse with 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Duvall scored 10 or more points in all 19 games the Norse played last season, including a 20-point effort against her old team, Louisville.
Duvall has continued her scoring exploits for a Northern Kentucky team that is 10-3 overall this season.
Duvall’s 19.7 points per game rank in the top 25 in the country as of Friday morning, boosted by a 29-point, 14-rebound double-double in a road win at Saint Louis on Dec. 11.
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 5 Tennessee
When: 3 p.m.
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Records: UK 8-4 (1-1 SEC), Tennessee 15-1 (4-0)
Series: Tennessee leads 56-15
Last meeting: Kentucky won 71-56 on Feb. 11, 2021, in Rupp Arena