The final piece to one of the greatest recruiting classes in Fort Lewis College men’s basketball history was added Thursday.
Derris “DJ” Miles, a Division I transfer from the University of Northern Colorado, signed with the Skyhawks. He became the seventh new addition to the roster. Miles, who is from Lakewood, played two years at Otero Junior College and one year at Northern Colorado and has one year of NCAA eligibility left.
“I was looking for a good fit and a good relationship with the coach and also my teammates,” Miles said. “The coaches are very genuine and didn’t tell me anything I didn’t like. I caught a vibe from it and feel like I made the right decision.”
Miles averaged 13.3 points per game at Northern Colorado and was the team’s second-leading scorer. He made 76 3-pointers last season and set the Bears record for most made 3s in a single game with 10.
At Otero, Miles was a Region 9 South Division Player of the Year and was named an All-America Honorable Mention player.
“He’s a multi-dimensional player who can play a bunch of different positions,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “He’s an elite shooter. I think he will be a point-forward for us depending on where we can best utilize him.”
Miles is already familiar with two players on the Skyhawks’ roster. He played at Otero with FLC senior forward Brandon Wilson and at Northern Colorado with another new transfer to FLC in Mike Ranson.
“Coming to FLC, my best friend Brandon Wilson goes up here,” Miles said. “It helped make it an easy decision for me, especially with another old teammate Mike Ranson. (Wilson) told me it was a great culture here from the jump. I liked the team, the teammates are all cool, and Durango is a beautiful place to be. I couldn’t go wrong being here.”
Pietrack and associate head coach Daniel Steffensen brought in seven players in recruiting this year – two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and now a senior.
“DJ was not anticipated,” Pietrack said. “A senior transfer is always a risk/reward situation, but we are confident he will fit into the culture of our program and have a good senior season.”
Miles said his college journey has humbled him. He credited his two years at Otero for growing him as a player and his experience at Northern Colorado for making him tougher and more skilled. He aims to bring more than his 3-point shooting to the Skyhawks.
“I know how to lead a team and be a great teammate,” he said. “I always want to encourage my guys to do the right thing. I will be the best teammate I can be for them. On the court, I think an underrated talent is my passing ability. When I see the guys open, I can get them the ball.”
Miles follows in the footsteps of a former FLC superstar in Kirk Archibeque. The forward from Cortez played one year with the Skyhawks after transferring from Northern Colorado and scored 640 points and grabbed 297 rebounds.
“When you get a senior transfer with the right attitude who wants to be part of the team and help the team like DJ does, then you take the risk and hope you can blend him in,” Pietrack said. “All the guys were in favor of it and want to be successful.
“We are counting down the days until school starts to put pieces together. We have a strong group of returners that played a lot of big games and won a lot of big games at FLC. It’s like Christmas. You want to get your new toys next to your old toys and see what you can do with it.”