Meet Brett and Bradd Miller—current residents of California, but whose hearts still lie in Basketball City, USA.
Brett and Bradd Miller grew up your all-around Spokane basketball kids.
In 1993, the twins were in fourth grade in Spokane. As they wrapped up their YMCA basketball season, a friend asked if they wanted to play in Hoopfest. At the time Hoopfest was a fairly new event and the brothers were anxious to hop in on the fun. That year Miller brothers were two of the players on team “Fab Four,” an intentional spinoff of the early 1990’s University of Michigan team named the “Fab Five.”
The Millers played in Hoopfest for the next 15 years consecutively, and while the other two players on the Hoopfest squad would change from year to year, the brothers remained the constant.
“It was just like Christmas day but for basketball,” Brett said. “It is the pinnacle of basketball for 3-on-3 tournaments. It’s just the best of the best.”
At age 12, the Millers moved to North Spokane. Their neighbor? Rick Steltenpohl, the then-Executive Director of Hoopfest. As Brett remembers it, he and his brother would go join “all of the Hoopfest Big Wigs” for pickup games across the street.
Brett and Bradd played basketball at Spokane’s Mead High School, during the mid-2000’s. Yes, that Mead High School team, where they were teammates and good friends with eventual Gonzaga University star and professional player, Adam Morrison.
Despite being offered college basketball scholarships, it was baseball that actually drew the Millers away from Spokane. The duo went to a two-year school, Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, on the west side of the state to play.
While at GHC, Brett blew out his shoulder. While his brother went on to play at Dakota State University, Brett questioned if he was going to be able to play baseball again. That’s when he heard about Simpson University, a small, NAIA school in Redding, Calif. that had a powerhouse coaching staff of former Major League Baseball players.
On his first day in Redding, Brett met his now-wife, whom he married just recently in summer 2014.
When out of their college season, Brett was joined by Bradd who came out to play summer ball in Redding on the Redding Colt.45s. Brett suffered the second injury of his college career with a ruptured spleen, but was able to finish his career with Simpson in 2008.
Even while playing summer baseball, the Miller brothers made any effort they could to come back to Spokane for Hoopfest each year. Some years only one of them could make it, but never by choice. If Hoopfest was a possibility, they made it happen.
“I’m a basketball nut,” Brett said. “Just because I played baseball in college, doesn’t mean I didn’t play basketball every single day.”
Now that they are done with their college baseball days, the Millers can again freely prioritize Hoopfest. They’re veterans at winning their bracket, having done so four or more times—you know you’re a winner when you start losing track of championships.
Today, both Millers call Redding home. Many basketball fans and players are familiar with Spokane’s city-wide love for the game and will question the why anyone in their right mind would ever choose to leave Basketball City, USA. Brett has questioned it himself, but also appreciates the niche he’s been able to create for himself in Redding.
Brett is currently working on earning his master’s in education, largely so he can continue to coach high school baseball, which he’s done the last couple of years, and be a positive influence on the young athletes in his community. Additionally, he coaches at the US Baseball Academy and coached an American Legion summer team this past year.
Still, Hoopfest makes for a sweet homecoming and reunion each year.
“It’s Hoopfest!” Brett said. “It’s just so obvious why I’m coming back. It’s like going to your parents’ house for the holidays. For me, it’s like end of June is rolling around we’re going to Spokane for Hoopfest, plain and simple. Last year my wedding was two weeks after [Hoopfest] and that didn’t even stop me.”
Brett keeps an aerial shot of downtown Spokane during the last weekend in June easily accessible in his phone for when the occasional scoffer wonders what makes the trek to eastern Washington for a measly 3-on-3 basketball tournament worth it.
“Their jaws drop and I say, ‘that’s where I’m going,” he said.
While they’ve acquired several championships over the years, the Millers have yet to win an elite bracket. Brett is projecting this year to be their best shot yet at making some noise in an elite division; they’re bringing a friend and former college basketball player up from California.
But win or lose, Hoopfest is Hoopfest and Hoopfest is magical.
“I’ll have a smile on my face that whole weekend, even if I’m losing,” he said. “I just love basketball and I love my hometown.”
Whether it’s your first year or your 26th, don’t miss your opportunity to be part of the largest outdoor basketball tournament on earth. Register your team today!