Miles commits to High Point
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Named for the lead character in a successful Tom Cruise movie, Maverick Miles was hyped as the next big thing before he reached his 12th birthday.
He hasn’t disappointed during his athletic career at South Rowan.
The junior standout won’t have to deal with the recruiting process any longer. He recently gave a verbal commitment to High Point’s baseball program. That had to thrill the Panthers’ new coaching staff. Miles has the frame, bat and wheels of an ACC player.
Miles’ father, Jim, an all-county defensive back and record-setting pole vaulter at South in the 1970s, said 16 schools, including big boys such as Virginia Tech and East Carolina, had shown serious interest in his son.
The younger Miles may or may not have seen “The Godfather,” but his explanation was that High Point “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
“I’d been thinking about East Carolina and I’d been thinking about Virginia Tech, and I hadn’t thought much at all about High Point,” Miles said. “When I went to visit there I loved it, and they offered a really good scholarship.”
The opportunity to play early for the Panthers was a factor. They have several upperclassmen in the outfield, and Miles is good enough to be batting at the top of the lineup and playing center field as a freshman in 2011.
That sort of opportunity may not have been present at ECU or an ACC school. West Rowan’s Wade Moore, one of the county’s best athletes in the last 10 years, had to wait until his junior season at N.C. State to get a shot at regular playing time.
“A lot of things factored in, and the opportunity for Mav to play early was one of them,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “It’s also a great school that’s not far away. It’s nice when you can find that perfect fit so close by. There was a lot of interest from a lot of places, but I think he just fell in love with High Point.”
High Point has focused on upgrading athletics since the arrival of AD Craig Keilitz last January.
Sal Bando Jr., 144-243 in seven seasons at High Point, resigned as baseball coach in May. Craig Cozart, an assistant for perennial winner Central Florida, has replaced him.
Cozart and assistant coach Bryan Peters impressed Miles with their determination to turn things around. Miles expects them to have the Panthers rolling by the time he’s wearing purple and black.
High Point competes in the Big South, a Division I baseball conference that includes Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, Liberty and UNC Asheville. It’s non-league schedule features North Carolina, N.C. State, Florida State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, plus many Southern Conference schools.
“They play a top-level schedule that includes what I consider to be the best program in the country,” Chrismon said.
That would be UNC. Chrismon starred in Chapel Hill as a relief pitcher.
Miles also has done some starring. His jayvee career at South lasted one game. Injuries forced him into the varsity lineup at second base early in his freshman year, and he went 2-for-4 against West Rowan. Since that day, he’s been a handful for pitchers. He has an opportunity to rewrite South’s career record book.
Miles batted .342 with team highs of 26 hits and 18 RBIs as an all-county freshman.
As a sophomore, he performed double duty in track and baseball. He won the 3A state championship in the pole vault last May, clearing 14 feet, 6 inches. His father had won WNCHSAA titles in the same event in 1974 and 1975.
On the diamond, Miles batted. 407. His 27 RBIs were the most by a South Rowan player since William Van Wieren produced 32 for the 2002 team. His 33 hits were the most by a Raider in more than a decade.
He’s also stolen 23 bases in two seasons.
Miles has played second base for South, but the graduation of Matt Ingold left a void at shortstop. Miles is the Raiders’ best option to fill it this season.
Still, Miles’ future is certain to be in the outfield where he can take advantage of excellent speed.
“I’ve always though outfield was his future because with his frame he’ll keep on getting bigger and stronger,” Chrismon said. “He’ll eventually be a power hitter, but I think he should be able to keep the speed and athleticism he has now.”
Miles has packed on muscle since last season. He still looks long and lean, but he owns a set of guns that are going to stretch his uniform.
“I’m up around 200 pounds now,” Miles said. “I’ve kinda outgrown my track poles. I do miss track sometimes, but it’s all baseball for me now.”
Miles played for coach David Wright’s South Legion team last summer and was a consistent force as the No. 3 hitter. He batted .392 with four homers and 34 RBIs. Playing 37 games, he had at least one hit in 35.
In the playoffs, as the pitching got tougher, Miles didn’t slump. He batted .377 and hit safely in all 14 of South’s games.
Miles played fall ball for the South Charlotte Panthers, an elite travel-ball organization that has also included East Rowan standouts Corbin Shive and Noah Holmes, and got serious exposure.
The Miles family got a scare when it was discovered during a preseason physical that Maverick has a quarter-sized hole in his heart. Scary as that sounds, medical science has progressed to the point that such “holes” can usually be sealed without open-heart surgery. A one-hour procedure at Duke often addresses the condition permanently, and there’s no hospital stay.
“They told me I’ve had the hole since I was born, so I’m not worried about it,” Miles said.
Miles has been cleared to play his junior season, and he’ll play without having to worry about which coaches are scouting him.
“It’s great having a guy like Mav because he raises everyone’s level of play,” Chrismon said. “We’ve just got to find the right guys to hit in front of him and behind him.”