In its third edition this past summer, the annual Pangos All-American Festival featured an invite-only collection of 40 elite players representing four regional teams. Over two days, there was no shortage of talent as the squads competed in high scoring contests at McBride High School in Long Beach, California.
Pro Insight covered the event and caught up with Mercy Miller of Notre Dame High School (CA) and JL3 Elite (TX). Miller led the showcase in scoring at 31.5 points per game while shooting 50% from deep (8/16) in two games for Team South. The 6’4” guard controlled the pace for his team and showcased his offensive repertoire which included dynamic handles, fluid scoring ability, and marksmanship from downtown. He possesses confidence as a scorer, advanced feel for the game, and offensive IQ, plus creativity. With two years left of high school to go, Miller is making a name for himself and blazing his own path on and off the court.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Miller discussed transferring to Notre Dame for his junior year, committing to Houston, the factors that led to the decision, giving back to the community, the importance of his faith, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Houston commit Mercy Miller, from West Hills, California:
Pro Insight: You matched up against many of the top 2023 prospects during the summer — what was your impression of the Pangos All-American Festival?
Mercy Miller: You know, I felt it was a great event. They got a lot of dogs out here, a lot of dudes [who are] high-ranked, high-profile players. You know, it’s just good to come out here and compete, see where I'm at, see what I gotta work on, and see what I gotta get better on.
PI: Your high school teammate Caleb [Foster] was here supporting you, pushing you, and everything.
PI: How has the transition to Notre Dame been?
MM: Yeah, so at Notre Dame it's high intensity every day in practice. Our coach does a good job of that. We got some names, but he doesn't treat us like that. He pushes us to get better. This dude Caleb right here man, he's definitely one of the best players in the country, you know. It's just guarding him every day, it's hard. So doing that, I feel like I can definitely play with everybody.
PI: You guys have Dusty [Stromer], as well.
MM: Yeah, Dusty…man, he's a dog, too. He shoots over everybody. So just being able to contest him, figure out ways how to get by him on defense, it’s just all helping my game.
PI: Obviously you come from a very talented and versatile family, but talk a bit more about your background and how you got to where you are today.
MM: Yeah, you know, my family…my dad, he's a famous rapper. But I like to come out here and show that I'm a good basketball player, too. I want to make my own name, create my own path. Everything my dad does for me, I give him all the credit. He pushes me. He takes me to the gym every day. You know, it's a crazy feeling to have a dad like that be there in my life like he is.
PI: Any other athletes in the family?
MM: So my cousin is Vyctorius Miller, he’s one of the top players in the country. We go at it. My brother, Hercy, he's at Louisville right now. He's been pushing me ever since I've been a little kid. So to see him chasing his dream right now, it’s just crazy to see.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
MM: A lot of people say I play like Brad Beal. I get to my spots, shoot the ball, get downhill, play defense. That's what I like to do. I just like to help my team win, too, at the end of the day. We couldn’t pull out the win in this game, but we're definitely coming back and just going to keep working.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
MM: Some players I like to watch like Paul George, Devin Booker — he gets to his spots. Chris Paul, I was in the gym with Chris Paul a couple times. Just seeing the greats, what they do and how they just play the game at a different pace, it's definitely helping my game improve.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
MM: As a player, I'm just trying to improve by going hard on every play on the defensive end, locking up the person in front of me and just getting stops and helping my team win this state championship.
PI: Congratulations on the commitment to Houston, by the way! It was a while back, but what made them different from the rest of your options?
MM: Yeah, Houston, I felt like was the best fit for me. Coach Sampson, he kept it real with me from the day we talked on the phone. He gave me the offer and I just felt Houston was home for me. My dad was an alumni, so I've been going to games there for years and I just love the atmosphere. I love the people there. I just can't wait to be in the city of Houston.
PI: Any particular guys you are looking to help recruit to Houston?
MM: Whoever is a dog. Whoever is a dog that’s gonna get out there and compete. Houston, when I get there, we’re trying to go for the national championship every year, you know they're a Final Four team. We definitely should be in a national championship, and that’s why all our players are gonna compete and work hard to get there.
PI: What type of leader are you? How would you describe your leadership style?
MM: You know, I'm a vocal leader. I like to tell guys, you know, try to help my guys out, get them in the right spots. Just lead. As a smaller player, I don't got all the size, all the length, you know. But I like to just do what I can to contribute to the game.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
MM: You know, I like to travel. I’m into art. I like to draw a little bit. So, you know, I'm not just a basketball player. I like to do other things.
PI: What’s been the favorite place you've ever been?
MM: I went to Hawaii a couple years back — that was one of the best trips I've ever been on in my life. So definitely Hawaii. Now I gotta get out of the country and go to some other places.
PI: Where would you want to go internationally?
MM: One place I wanna go for sure is Greece. It's beautiful there. I've been seeing all these videos of people going there, so I wanna get out there, for sure.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
MM: Oh favorite music artist right now? Probably like G Herbo. Oh, I like Young Boy. You know, I like all these. I like Drake. Put Drake up there. You know, I don't have a favorite artist like that, but all-time, Kanye, probably.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
MM: #NoDaysOff. That's my hashtag right there. I live by that. I feel whoever put the most work in, they could accomplish whatever they want. That's what my dad always tells us. So seeing everything he did and just living by “no days off,” I feel I could go very far.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MM: Best piece of advice is probably just never change. You know, remember where you from. Remember where you started from. Remember the goal that you have in mind. So just stay focused all the time and just keep going.
PI: Besides the NBA, where do you see yourself in five years?
MM: Besides the NBA, I see myself giving back to the community, being in the community with kids or just helping out people, starting businesses, and doing whatever I can to help the less fortunate.
PI: That’s awesome. You previously mentioned faith being important — How has that helped you in your journey?
MM: Yeah. Faith plays a key factor in my life. I have Bible study every Sunday. I like to go to church on Wednesdays. You know, faith is there and then without the man up above, I wouldn’t be here, so I give all the glory to God every day. And I know God got big plans for me, so I'm gonna just keep trusting Him.
PI: Is Wednesday like a youth group setting?
MM: Yeah, it's like a little youth group thing we do. It’s just younger teenage kids who want to come and worship the Lord.
PI: I appreciate you sharing. It’s cool to have that community and circle.
MM: Yessir. Yeah, the community is great.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
MM: Four words that best describe me. I’d say…let's see (thinking for a second). I’d say hard worker, competitive, loyal, and funny. Some people say I’m funny sometimes, but I don’t know (laughs).
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
MM: At the end of the day, I hope to be remembered as one of the greats, you know, up there with Jordan, LeBron, Kobe. But besides that, you know, I want to be somebody who changed the world, who people can look up to, who kids look up to. So that's definitely something I want to do. Yeah, I'm striving for that.