So far, Reign of Troy has honored a few fine Men of Troy that have left their mark on the history books. But make no mistake: there have been plenty of Women of Troy that have arguably overcome even greater obstacles, being both black and female. Today, we acknowledge one of the women that pretty much made USC Women’s Basketball what it is today: Cheryl Miller.
Even before her time at USC, Cheryl Miller was destined to be a star of her generation. She attended Riverside Polytechnic High School, where she was a Varsity letterman for four years, and led her team to a 132-4 record during her time there. No matter who the opponent was, Miller just couldn’t be stopped. In fact, during her senior year in her team’s victory over Norte Vista High School, Miller scored 105 points.
One hundred. And five. Points. ON HER OWN. Needless to say, it makes sense that Miller was the first athlete—male or female—to be named an All-American by Parade magazine four times.
Standing a 6 ft. 4 in. tall, Miller was a forward on USC’s team. During her time with the Women of Troy, Miller quickly went to work establishing her legacy. She was a four-time letterman AND a four-time All-American. She racked up 3,018 career points (fifth all-time in NCAA history) and grabbed 1,534 boards (third all-time in NCAA history). She was the Naismith College Player of the Year three times, and earned the Wade Trophy (Player of the Year) once. She—along with her teammates Cynthia Cooper and the McGee twins, whom we will spotlight later—led the Women of Troy to a 112-20 record and two back-to-back NCAA titles in 1983 and 1984. It is no surprise that she was also named the MVP of both championship runs. And in her senior year, Miller won one of her three Naismith awards and the Broderick award for the Female College Basketball Player of the Year.
When she wasn’t balling out of control for the Women of Troy, Cheryl Miller was busy doing work for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. She led the team to a Gold Medal during the 1984 Summer Olympics right here in Los Angeles, earned a gold medal the year before during the Pan-American games in Caracas, Venezuela, and got another gold medal during the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986.
Today, Miller still holds numerous Trojan career records, including points (3,018, 23.6 ppg), rebounds (1,534, 12.0 rpg), field goals made (1,159), free throws made (700), games played (128), and steals (462). For her tremendous accomplishments, USC retired her No. 31 jersey in 1986, at the end of her senior year. Since then, Miller has had a career in sports broadcasting, working as a sideline reporter for TNT, as well as the NBA on CBS, among other things.
During Miller’s day, no one really took women’s basketball seriously. The WNBA did not exist yet, nor was it really even thought of. Without Miller and the women who played with her, greats like Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker would not exist. Miller helped open the door for women’s athletics to become mainstream, for young girls to have athletes of their own to look up to.
Without question, the Trojan Family is VERY proud to claim Cheryl Miller as one of our own, as one of the women who pioneered a culture of great female hoopers.
Fight On Forever, Cheryl Miller!