Lancaster young man earns a gold medal

Mike Miles helps Team USA to U19 FIBA World Cup championship

Patty Hullett
Daily Light correspondent
Lancaster High School graduate Mike Miles competes for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics (Under 19) Men’s Basketball World Cup in Latvia last month.
Team USA's Mike Miles of Lancaster kisses his gold medal after lelping lead the team to the U19 Olympics championship in Latvia last month.

It’s not everyday that someone in our Dallas / Ellis counties part of the world comes home with an Olympic gold medal, but the city of Lancaster can now proudly claim their place in history. Their very own USA basketball player – Mike Miles – arrived back in town from the small country of Latvia on July 12, and with him came a winning gold medal around his neck.

Miles was a celebrated hometown hero when he was a part of the tradition of excellence at Lancaster High School Tiger Basketball team from years 2016 through 2020.

His former LHS coach, Ferrin Douglas says, “Mike has always been a special player. He is a very gifted athlete with a very high basketball IQ. After winning the gold medal with his USA team, he has proven that he is the best point guard in the country this year, at least at the collegiate level. And I am so proud of Mike and what he has accomplished because of all his hard work on the basketball court.”

In return, Miles says of his former high school coach, “Coach Douglas taught me a lot of things on and off the court. I can’t just pinpoint one specific thing. He is my favorite coach I’ve ever played for, and I will always be so grateful to him for all that he has poured into me.”

The Lancaster Olympian also enjoyed a successful freshman year (2020-2021) as a Horned Frog at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The USA U19 team was coached by TCU Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon, so he was very familiar with Miles’ abilities and the prowess he brings to a high-level basketball tournament, especially in high-pressure games like being in the Olympic World Cup. As a TCU freshman Miles averaged 13.6 points per game and 3.1 assists in their previous season.

USA vs. France – breakdown of gold medal game

A star-studded roster faced a daunting match up with France in the FIBA Under 19 World Cup championship game, pitting American 7’1″ Chet Holmgren on the 7’2″ 17-year-old Victor Wembanyama representing France. The projected first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Wembanyama posted a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds while swatting eight shots in the process.

France continued to give the U.S. fits throughout the game, leading by four heading into the fourth quarter. Holmgren’s ease around the rim got the ball rolling with five straight points out of the quarter that snowballed into an 11-0 run.

The Gonzaga freshman – named tournament MVP – finished the tournament averaging 11.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and just under three blocks a game while shooting an astronomical 62% from the field and 53.8% from downtown, all in 21 minutes a game.

Purdue’s Jaden Ivey provided a much needed scoring punch in the USA victory, dropping 16 points, four boards and three steals, averaging 12.3 points and 1.6 steals per game.

Throughout the game Miles was a consist team player that provided great movement on the offensive floor, and also pushed through with some much-needed assistance on defense as well. In the final championship game, Miles contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 0 turnovers.

Holmgren and Ivey represented the U.S. in the tournament’s All-Star Five, rounded out by Webmanyama, Canada’s Zach Edey and Serbia’s Nikola Jovic.

Over the tourney which took place July 3 – 11, the Americans were victorious in 7 straight games. The USA U19 team defeated Turkey 83-54; USA vs Mali 100-52; USA vs Australia 87-66; USA vs Korea 132-60; USA vs Senegal 88-58; USA vs Canada 92-86; and USA vs France 83-81. The USA has now won back-to-back FIBA U19 championships, both under TCU head coach Jamie Dixon.

U19 USA team dominates since 1979

Reigning FIBA U19 World Cup gold medalist, USA men’s teams have won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal while compiling an 99-14 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the event was launched in 1979. Even more impressive, the USA has won four of the past six U19 golds since 2009.