Boys Basketball: Anthony Millner providing leadership for Canal Winchester Indians at point guard

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
In his first season as a starter, senior point guard Anthony Millner is leading the Canal Winchester boys basketball team in scoring at 11 points a game. But his contributions go beyond that, coach Zach Olson said. "He doesn’t take possessions off. ... He leads by action and example. That’s exactly what you need from your floor general."

Perhaps underscoring Anthony Millner’s importance to his team, Canal Winchester boys basketball coach Zach Olson couldn’t pinpoint one particularly memorable moment this season for the senior point guard. 

“I just know when we need a basket, he’s extremely aggressive to make sure we get a good look on that possession,” Olson said. “It’s not so much him getting a shot. He gets more aggressive at those times to make something happen. … It’s a huge bonus, just knowing no matter what’s going on, you know you have somebody who can attack, create and score at the same time.  

"He’s a pass-first, facilitator-type of player, but when opportunities rise up, he can definitely put the ball in the basket.” 

Millner’s average of 11.0 points per contest led the Indians through 11 games, in which they were 6-5 overall before playing Westland on Feb. 6 and 5-3 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a Feb. 12 game at Delaware.  

Despite having played point guard since elementary school, Millner did not assume he would take that position on varsity despite the graduation of all five starters from a year ago. 

“There was always the possibility of switching positions or roles based on how guys got better from last year … (but) it’s just a role I fit perfectly,” Millner said. “My ability to know where everybody should be or what they’re doing is something I’ve always been able to do. 

“My role getting bigger has pushed me to be more of a scorer than just a point guard. With guys around me who can score as well, they’re pushing me to be a leader.” 

After scoring four points on varsity last season, Millner hit double digits seven times in 11 games, including a career-high 16 in a 61-44 win at Logan on Jan. 23. He took as much pride, if not more, in three players scoring 10 or more points that night than in his own performance. 

“He’s a great teammate, great person, great person to talk to (and) very friendly,” said teammate Andre Heglar, who has known Millner since they were seventh-grade teammates. “He’s doing an amazing job right now. He’s taken the role and every responsibility. He’s definitely been our top player this year, doing everything for us, talking and scoring. He brings the energy and all that to the court.” 

Millner stood just 5-foot-1 in middle school before a growth spurt shot him up to 6-2. 

On the rare occasions he gets a break, freshman Cortez Freeman runs the offense. 

“(Millner’s) poise is the biggest thing. It’s his first year playing a lot of varsity minutes,” Olson said. “I’m impressed with how he handles tight situations. He doesn’t take possessions off. If you go back to his leadership on the team, he’s always helping other guys out and talking through things. He leads by action and example. That’s exactly what you need from your floor general.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave