Last season, the awards just continued to mount for men’s basketball’s Micah Till. A transfer from Harford Community College in Maryland, the forward thrived on the court for the Rock.
He collected both third-team All-American and first-team All-Region honors from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and was also named to the PSAC’s first team. Statistics-wise, he paced the country in rebounds in the regular season. Also, he was the only D-II player to reach 600 points and 350 rebounds, an accomplishment that only five Division I players, including top NBA lottery picks DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, could boast about.
In speaking about his achievements after last season, Till said, “I think I had a personally good year this year, and I’m happy for that, but next year, it’s going to be more team-based. And that’s not to say that I was focused on myself last year, I wasn’t. It just turned out that way with personal accolades. Next year, I want the team to have the accolades.”
As evidenced by his inclusion on the Street and Smith’s annual preseason All-American team, Till is no longer being pointed out for his short time on the gridiron on North Carolina State.
This year, though, the six foot, seven inch, 260-pound redshirt junior welcomes what is essentially an entirely new supporting cast. Redshirt senior forward Vinny Lasley, who did not see any time on the hardwood in last season, is the only other player on the roster that has previously worn a green and white uniform.
This fall, Till arrived in Slippery Rock for school and preseason workouts in a situation similar to last year, having to grow familiar with new faces on and off the court.
“It’s been a little different [and] it’s been fun, but, at the same time, it’s been challenging getting to know my new teammates and learning what they like […] We’ve got to build chemistry quicker than other teams might have to because they have years or months of preparing together,” Till said.
On the court, Micah has been trying to get used to the spots his teammates like to shoot from and what skill sets they each possess.
“It’s a lot more challenging than just going out and playing, because that was all I was doing [last year]. I was just playing basketball,” he said. “But, this year, I’ve got to worry about playing and making sure my teammates are doing what they’re supposed to do, on and off the court- in the classroom, stuff like that. I’ve got to stay on top of, not just my stuff, but everybody’s.”
In his free time, he has been working on building relationships with them by “going out, having lunch, dinner, together as a team. Hanging out, maybe going to a volleyball game or something like that. Spending time as team, together.”
Ian Grady, who has been part of the team’s coaching staff for a decade and played a big role in Till’s recruitment, will lean on the forward’s leadership, both vocally and through his play.
“I think that having him back is a big help,” the acting head coach stated. “Obviously, we want to get him involved as much as possible so that other guys can feed off of it and get opportunities through him.”
Till has demonstrated leadership by showing up in Western Pennsylvania noticeably lighter. His coaches have been pleased with the weight loss, knowing they can depend on his conditioning to help him to spend needed time on the floor.
“He came in in better shape [for] the start of the season as compared to last year,” Grady said. “I think that has helped him in all aspects. That includes communication and being a leader on the floor.”
“I feel a lot better, just working on speed, really,” he said. “That’s some of the problems I had last year was getting that second burst. I like to play hard, and I can’t play hard when I’m dead tired.”
With improvement and another All-American title in mind, Till plans on continuing to trust his coaches and teammates.
“Me scoring all of the points and rebounding is just me following the gameplan. As long as I do that and keep pushing, I should have an even better year this year.”
Said Grady, “After having a year in the system, a year under his belt, I think that he can only get better. We expect big things from him.”