As a freshman, Olivia Miles is shredding defenses. How far will she be able to go?

In the N.C.A.A. tournament, the point guard became the first rookie — woman or man — to record a triple-double. Notre Dame will now play in the round of 16 on Saturday.

During a game in South Bend, Ind., in February, Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles was defended by Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith.

Olivia Miles can’t recall the exact moment she discovered she was a basketball prodigy. What she recalls is when other people noticed she was a terrific basketball player, which happened virtually as soon as she was born.

“It was simply people telling me I had the talent,” she explained.

It was as evident to anybody watching back then as it is now in the N.C.A. tournament, where Miles, Notre Dame’s 5-foot-10 point guard, has already made history by becoming the first freshman to post a triple-double in either the women’s or men’s championships. Miles recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in her first tournament game, an 89-78 win against Massachusetts.

“Seeing the triple-double gives me confidence that I’m putting in a lot of effort on the court,” she added. “It’s exciting to attain these numbers – to make my imprint and create a legacy,” says the author.

Miles, 19, is well-versed with triple-doubles, having earned her second of her collegiate career in the first round. And she’s always a couple of rebounds or assists away from getting another one.

Miles led the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish to 108 points in their second-round thrashing of Oklahoma, the No. 4 seed, the highest the team has ever scored in a tournament. She recorded 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists in the game.

Olivia Miles of Notre Dame was guarded by Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith during a game in South Bend, Ind., in February.

During Notre Dame’s second-round game against Oklahoma on Monday, Abby Prohaska, left, Miles, Maddy Westbeld, Maya Dodson, and Dara Mabrey celebrated on the sideline.

Abby Prohaska, left, Miles, Maddy Westbeld, Maya Dodson, and Dara Mabrey of Notre Dame congratulated each other.

During Notre Dame’s second-round game against Oklahoma on Monday, Abby Prohaska, left, Miles, Maddy Westbeld, Maya Dodson, and Dara Mabrey celebrated on the sideline.

Those figures reflect not just Miles’ ability, but also Niele Ivey’s confidence in her first recruit as Notre Dame’s head coach. Miles, who was ranked No. 8 in her class by ESPN HoopGurlz, committed to Notre Dame just two days after Ivey, a former player and assistant coach at Notre Dame, was named head coach in 2020.

“I’ve effectively handed her the ball and told her to give it back to me in four years,” Ivey added.

Miles, it turns out, enjoys throwing the ball away. She is Notre Dame’s best scorer, but she also leads the country in assists with 7.4 per game, trailing only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.

Those assists are the most eye-catching aspects of her highlight films, frequently arriving in transition when the shot clock has been slashed by only a few seconds.

Dara Mabrey, a senior guard, remarked, “My first session with her, she gave me like three open shots right away.” “I thought to myself, ‘Whoa, this is going to be a lot of fun.’”

Miles has a near-professional ability to read defenses, analyze them in real-time, and typically find a teammate poised to score. Her distinctive sports goggles provide her with a clear view of the court (no, she’s never wished to try contact lenses).

“She has arguably the greatest vision of anyone I’ve ever seen,” Ivey remarked.

Miles credits her talent to soccer, which she began playing as a youngster in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, long before she ever stepped on the court. It was her first sport, and she continued to play every autumn until she graduated from high school — even after she could have focused only on basketball.

“I feel like reading defenders, looking at open spaces, and figuring out where to make the correct pass at the right moment — those are all things that I think translate pretty well to basketball,” Miles said. She also feels that broadening her sports pursuits has improved her endurance. “It’s really helped me get acclimated to varied motions, twists, and cuts,” she explained.

Miles also researches N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. players, which aids her in seeing a wide range of possibilities for each particular play. It’s hardly a novel strategy, but seeing Miles play, her passing and planning appear to be far more professional than most of her classmates.

“Sometimes we’ll be sprinting up the court as quickly as we can in transition, and she’ll notice something and make a pass,” Mabrey explained. “I’m like, ‘Dude, how did you even see her?’” says the narrator. ‘How could you know anything like that was going to happen?’

Coach Niele Ivey of Notre Dame said of Miles, “I’ve basically given her the ball and said, ‘Give me the ball back in four years.”

Coach Niele Ivey of Notre Dame said of Miles, “I’ve basically given her the ball and said, ‘Give me the ball back in four years.”

Because she hadn’t grown up watching much basketball, Miles felt she had to take the phrase “student of the game” literally. Her father is a runner who enjoys soccer, while her mother is not a sports fan. Together, they had a hazy understanding of Miles’ options in the game and the path she’d have to follow to achieve them.

“I had no idea you could play basketball in college,” Miles explained. “Others just had to tell us things like, ‘Her next step is this.’”

She spent more time watching YouTube videos and Twitter snippets of Trae Young and Stephen Curry, Arike Ogunbowale — another young soccer player turned Notre Dame basketball standout — and, she confesses, Sue Bird, the more serious she became about basketball.

“I actually like watching her play, even though she went to UConn and it’s a big deal,” Miles said of Bird and their rivalry. “I mean, her vision is out of this world.”

Miles’ major objective has been cultivating her own vision, and she is so dedicated to it that she has decided to forego her final year at Blair Academy, a boarding school in New Jersey. Because the season had already been postponed many times due to the coronavirus epidemic, Miles recommended to Ivey that she join the squad as Notre Dame’s first early enrollee for women’s basketball in late January 2021.

“OK, we’re not going to have a season, and I’m just going to stay stationary,” Miles remarked. “I was doing nothing at my high school when I could have been learning and progressing in both academics and on the court.”

Athletes who participate in autumn sports, particularly football, sometimes enroll early in order to ease into the collegiate experience. Miles, on the other hand, had to start both college and college athletics in the thick of conference play, and she had to run the floor for her older and more experienced colleagues.

The Notre Dame attack has been humming under Miles’ direction, and the lessons learned in those early games have been paying off at just the right time. So far in the competition, Miles has guided one notable triumph. When the teams play again in the round of 16 on Saturday — with the Wolfpack as the No. 1 seed — she’ll try to assist Notre Dame recreate one of its biggest triumphs of the season, a regular-season victory against North Carolina State.

Ivey stated, “I want her to have fun, I want her to lead our team and push the tempo, and I want her to play freely.” “In other words, I want Olivia to play basketball the way she wants.”


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