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Although she scored an impressive 105 points, why did Cheryl Miller, Reggie Miller’s sister, not join the WNBA?


The Miller family is associated with outstanding achievements in the world of basketball. While Reggie Miller is a familiar name among NBA fans, his older sister, Cheryl Miller, has also left her mark in the sport. In a 1982 match against Notre Vista High School, Miller set a new record with 105 points while playing for Riverside (CA) Polytechnic High School. After her successful high school career, she continued to excel at the collegiate level as a member of the USC Trojans, helping to raise the profile of women’s basketball in American sports. She even represented the United States in the 1984 Olympics. Her list of accomplishments goes on.

Despite her successful career, Cheryl Miller never pursued a professional career. What were the reasons for her not playing in the WNBA?

At the young age of eighteen, Cheryl Miller achieved a groundbreaking accomplishment.

Cheryl was born into a family that valued competition, and she quickly rose to become a leader on the basketball court. Her father Saul was a jazz musician who played with well-known artists such as Lione Hampton and Ike Turner, setting a high standard for his children. Cheryl’s older brother Darrell found success as a Major League Baseball catcher, and her brother Reggie gained fame as the ‘Knick Killer’ in the NBA. Meanwhile, Cheryl dominated the basketball courts at Riverside Polytechnic High School.

In 1978, Cheryl began attending Riverside Polytechnic High School. Despite her young age, she quickly grew to her full height of 6’2″. She played on the school’s team for four years and led them to an impressive record of 132 wins and only 4 losses. During this time, she also accumulated 3,026 points, 1,353 rebounds, and 368 assists. Cheryl’s outstanding performance even set a new state record for scoring, with an average of 37.5 points per game.

She stood out as the first female to successfully execute a dunk, surpassing even her brother’s score on one occasion.

During Cheryl’s senior year, her brother Reggie had an unforgettable evening when he scored 40 points in a game. After returning home and boasting about his achievement, he was unaware that Cheryl had also accomplished something equally impressive.

The Lady Bears dominated their competition in a match against Riverside Norte Vista, emerging victorious with a score of 179-15. Cheryl Miller, who scored an impressive 105 points in a single game, shattered the previous record and was the driving force behind this triumph.

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She earned four All-American awards, four state championships, and numerous other accolades due to her dominance. As a result, she was recruited to play for USC.

Cheryl Miller’s illustrious college career

Cheryl had no difficulty finding colleges that were eager for her talent. However, she ultimately chose to join the Trojans because USC was conveniently located near her home in Riverside. As a rookie starter, Cheryl wasted no time showcasing her exceptional abilities. She led USC to a 31-2 record and a national championship during the 1982-83 season. She went on to repeat this success the following year, earning MVP honors in both tournaments.

During her second year at USC, Cheryl was selected to be a part of the USA National women’s basketball team. After a loss to the Soviet Union in the 1983 World Championships, Cheryl and her team bounced back and won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games. Their winning streak continued at the William Jones Cup in early 1984, where Cheryl’s leadership led them to an undefeated 8-0 record. However, it was at the 1984 Olympics where Cheryl reached the peak of her international career, leading the National Team to a gold medal.

Cheryl received the title of Sports Illustrated’s National Player of the Year as her popularity continued to grow. In the 1985-1986 season at USC, she achieved a career-high of 814 points and had impressive field goal and free throw percentages, making it her most successful year. She ended her time at USC with an impressive record of 3,018 points, 1,534 rebounds (ranking third in NCAA history), and 462 steals. Cheryl also earned the title of 4-time All-American and was the recipient of the Wade Trophy in 1985 and the Naismith Player of the Year award from 1984 to 1986. She was also recognized as the best collegiate athlete in any sport by sharing the 1984 Honda Broderick Cup with swimmer Tracy Caulkins.

In 1986, the University of Southern California (USC) honored her by retiring her jersey number 31. This made her the first basketball player, male or female, in the school’s history to receive this recognition.

After finishing college, Cheryl Miller’s basketball journey continued. In 1986, she played for the US women’s team at the inaugural Goodwill Games in Moscow. She led her team to victory by scoring an average of 20.6 points per game and winning the gold medal. At the 1986 World Championships, she maintained her impressive performance and helped the National Team beat Russia by 20 points in the gold medal game.

In 1986, Cheryl Miller’s basketball career took a sudden and unexpected turn when she suffered a serious knee injury while playing in a casual game at USC. This injury abruptly ended her playing career and left her at a crossroads. Despite being considered for professional leagues such as the United States Basketball League, which was primarily made up of male players, Cheryl Miller refused to be defeated.

Cheryl Miller took on the role of a coach

After getting injured, Miller chose to share her expertise in basketball instead of giving up. She became an assistant coach for the USC women’s team and also worked as a television commentator. In 1993, Miller became the head coach for the USC women’s team and led them to a successful record of 44 wins and 14 losses, earning them spots in the NCAA tournament.

Cheryl’s coaching abilities earned her a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. However, she was also an exceptional player in her own right. Despite her modesty, Miller was a dominant force in basketball. In her own words, “I wasn’t the most talented athlete, I couldn’t jump very high, and I wasn’t an exceptional ball handler.” Yet, her love for the game and her passion for sports and life set her apart. This passion also led to her being the first female commentator to broadcast a nationally televised NBA game for Turner Sports.

In 1997, Cheryl was recruited by the Phoenix Mercury. She then became their general manager and head coach. Her approach was simple: prioritize speed, strong defense, and game knowledge. The Mercury reached the WNBA Finals in 1998, but were unable to secure the championship. After her time in Phoenix, Cheryl worked as a basketball commentator for NBA TV and TNT Sports. However, in 2014, she felt the desire to return to coaching. She took on a coaching position at Langston University in Oklahoma, where she led the team to a 48-12 record and national championship appearances in just two years.

In 2016, Cheryl Miller’s accomplishments as a coach resulted in her joining the California State, Los Angeles Golden Eagles. She remained a source of inspiration and guidance throughout the 2020-21 season.

View This Narrative: As NBA Icons Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, and Others Reflect on the Times Michael Jordan Overpowered Them.

Although Cheryl Miller’s name may not hold the same level of recognition as it once did, she remains a source of inspiration by demonstrating that unexpected obstacles can lead to extraordinary achievements.

What is your opinion on Cheryl Miller? Please share with us in the comment section.

Why did Cheryl Miller, despite scoring a record-breaking 105 points, never play in the WNBA?