The name Brandon Miller will always mean something to former Boise State basketball player Matt Bauscher.
It was Miller who was given the last scholarship to play basketball at Montana State despite it being offered to and accepted by Bauscher just two days earlier. But Miller’s time in Bozeman won’t be remembered for what he did on the basketball court.
“I encourage everyone right now to Google Brandon Miller Montana State,” Bauscher said during an appearance on the Bronco Legends Podcast. “Murder, life in prison. He was involved in a murder of a cocaine dealer. Now that’s irony.”
Miller, who Montana State elected to take instead of Bauscher because he was more athletic and a better fit for their style, pleaded guilty in 2008 for his role in the shooting death of cocaine dealer Jason Wright.
Another man was also charged and convicted in the killing, but both claim the other person pulled the trigger. Wright was found in a field west of Bozeman after being shot 10 times. Miller was sentenced to 125 years in prison for his role, but will be eligible for parole in 2037, when he is 53 years old.
Bauscher, meanwhile, elected to take a walk-on offer at Boise State after being snubbed by Montana State. Coach Greg Graham told Bauscher he would have the opportunity to earn a scholarship if he performed well, and that was all the Caldwell native needed to hear.
“I thought I was going to Montana State, I called my family, I finally had the offer I wanted, and then two days later I get home from practice and there’s a message on the machine saying we’ve decided to go with a different guy, Brandon Miller.
“I was devastated, but I had wanted to go to Boise State my whole life and I knew I was going to earn that scholarship.”
Things couldn’t have ended up working out any better for Bauscher, who graduated from Vallivue High School in 2003. Despite being told by a coach he’d never play Division I basketball and being forced to attend Spokane Community College for a year, he finally had a shot to play for his hometown Broncos.
After a redshirt year with the Broncos, he entered the starting lineup as a redshirt sophomore during the 2005-2006 season and was a key contributor the next three seasons before graduating in 2008.
Bauscher was part of the best season for any Boise State team in program history as a senior. The Broncos went 25-9, won the WAC regular season and tournament championships and earned a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament during the 2007-08 season before losing to No. 3 seed Louisville 79-61 in the first round.
The 25 wins remain tied for the most in school history in a single season, and the WAC Tournament championship is the last postseason tournament title the Broncos have won.
Bauscher went on to have a six-year professional career in Europe. He was a three-time Dutch Basketball League All-Star and twice won the Dutch Cup Championship before retiring in 2014.
And none of it seemed possible after he was overlooked in high school and had no options other than to go play at a junior college.
“Too slow, too small, from Idaho…I don’t know,” Bauscher said. “It was very emotional for me. I remember talking to my high school coach, just breaking down and crying saying ‘why do I put in so many hours when it’s not amounting to anything?’ But I just kept grinding and grinding and didn’t give up.”
That’s the message Bauscher plans to give on June 14 when he serves as the keynote speaker for the Idaho Press-Tribune’s Sports Stars of Canyon County Athletic Awards Night. The night will honor the top athletes, coaches and teams from Canyon County and the surrounding areas.
Bauscher, now one of the most successful real estate agents in Idaho and the owner of Bauscher Real Estate, plans to use his story to help motivate those in attendance at the Nampa Civic Center.
“I’m going to leave those kids so inspired and motivated because I can relate to every one of them,” Bauscher said. “It’s so much bigger than sports. It’s lifelong lessons that these coaches and athletic directors and parents and everybody are doing for them.
“I sat in every single one of their seats that they are in right now and I hope I can make a difference in a few of their lives.”
The full 30-minute interview with Bauscher on the Bronco Legends Podcast can be heard at BlueTurfSports.com starting Monday. The Bronco Legends Podcast is also available by subscribing on iTunes.