ASHLAND, Va. -- Miles Mallory didn't set foot at Randolph-Macon until the spring of 2019. Despite this, head basketball coach Josh Merkel and his staff had their eyes on him long before that.
"We saw Miles play Division One guys and hold his own really well. You have to really watch him to appreciate the things that he does and how he impacts the game," Merkel said.
When he first came to Ashland, Mallory didn't have to do a lot. With players like Buzz Anthony and Ian Robertson already established, Mallory's role was somewhat diminished which suited the introverted forward just fine.
"Those guys made my job a lot easier. All I had to do my freshman year was come up and set a screen for Buzz and be ready to shoot and play defense, obviously," Mallory said.
Mallory's demeanor on the court reflects his personality off it.
While he would never tell you, Mallory is a two-time All-American, owns the school and ODAC record for career blocked shots and is nearing the Jacket's top five in career rebounds.
"I'm not big on interacting with a lot of people. Not because I don't like people. It's just a bit much for me," Mallory said.
"He loves development. He wants to be good. He wants to impact. I think it's his escape, his stress relief is getting in the gym. He's been in here twice today," Merkel said.
By his own admission, Mallory is one of the quietest players in the Jacket program. But this year, he's a team captain, which has put the more introverted player into a position of having to do more than lead by example.
"He wants to win so badly, he's a do whatever it takes kind of guy. Although it doesn't come natural to him. It was one of those things like, Miles, you have so much to offer us. And our young guys can learn from your wisdom. It's really more empowering him," Merkel said.
"The leadership role has grown so much this year with me and him being more quieter guys. Growing that this year, talking to the younger dudes. His defense is nothing like I've seen before," Josh Talberty, Mallory's roommate, said.
Mallory prefers to do his teaching one-on-one. He's still not one to voluntarily speak in front of the entire team, though his play and work ethic do that for him. Despite his quiet nature, he has a lot to offer in terms of guidance and leadership and sharing what he learned when he was an underclassman.
"Trust that what you're doing is right. I had three years of mentors pouring into me, trusting that what they said is right. What I say is kind of a reflection of what they taught me," Mallory said.
"This year has definitely been a big flip for both of us. Just that communication piece. Being harder on guys isn't our forte to be harder on guys. But we all have our own way of leading," Talbert said.
"He's never going to demean or disrespect. It's almost in a too respectful way he doesn't want to step on anybody's toes. He's just a humble, humble superstar that I'm really fortunate to coach," Merkel said.
The one way to get Mallory talking is to take him on in NBA 2K. There, his game and personality are more extroverted, mostly because he plays with old friends and takes far more chances than he ever would on the court in real life.
"I shoot further in 2K but I probably score better at the rim here in real life," Mallory said.
But there's not much to not like about Mallory and his game. His name will be plastered throughout Randolph-Macon's record books. What those numbers don't say about him as a player and as a person, his coaches and teammates are happy to fill in.
"A great player but an even better dude," Talbert said.
"The most humble superstar that you will ever meet. Almost doesn't know how good he is. As great a player, has been an unbelievable human being and we're gonna miss him," Merkel said.