Friday, July 8, 2016

Rewind: Toppert Makes Adderall Look Unfocused

Lil Wayne’s “Let The Beat Build” pumps vociferously through the speakers inside the built-in 94x50 court at the D-Plex in Coconut Creek.

Once the man synonymous with high school basketball in Kentucky, Darius Miller grapples through discernible fatigue while launching a series of 20-footers.

The music is suddenly cranked up a notch, mirroring the intensity necessary for the waning stages of a workout. Within a matter of minutes, a sea of young onlookers and star-struck eyes are pasted on Miller. His form won’t waver, the motion of his wrist and his release point steadied. Critics once said the lack of a deep jumper was the visible hole in his game, but albeit the issue seems rectified at this point.

Sweat cascades down Miller’s white t-shirt profusely. The 2011 SEC tournament MVP at Kentucky and Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball of 2008, Miller has been relegated to a supplementary piece the last six years of his career.

A bruising and perilous scorer, blessed with Wolverine-sized hands as well as the build and athleticism blend of a tight end, Miller continues to fire in shots. One of few homegrown products to play for head coach John Calipari, Miller played an integral role on the 2012 NCAA championship team.

Though he was simply a 10 PPG scorer, ceding the spotlight to the menacing shot-blocker who is Anthony Davis, Miller provided the veteran senior presence on a squad laced with callow freshmen.

The glory of a championship is well in the rearview mirror. Kentucky is once again a superpower amongst powers in the NCAA, undefeated and a clear favorite to win the whole thing. Though Miller’s hard-to-guard arsenal and advanced skill-set helped author unprecedented success in tiny Maysville, Ky., the road to sustained life in the professional ranks hasn’t been as easy.

Miller learned this the hard way.

In late November of 2014, he was released from the New Orleans Pelicans. The move set him back. It was the first time in his life he’s ever been “cut,” so to speak. It might have put a dent or two in his psyche.

Yet his spirits were far from dampened. While he could have very well entertained ideas of playing in Europe, potentially penning a quick-strike deal six figure deal without even glancing at another NBA opportunity, his focus wouldn’t falter.

Should he smell longevity on the world's most challenging proving ground, Miller must morph into a reliable source to knock down those clutch shots. Mustering late-game energy amid riding exhaustion is all but a requirement, in order to take a 10-day contract and make it a 10-year contract. 

Toppert has helped not only shed the bad habits in Miller, he's re-ingrained the mentality which surfaced during Miller's Kentucky heyday. At the D-Plex, sources of motivation are difficult to find. Distractions seem to hit you in the square in the jaw.

There's a sparkling outdoor pool bordering the gym. A quartet of scantily-clad, tight-bodied women smack a volleyball around in the back entrance. 

Adorning the property are gorgeous money-green hibiscus plants all over. There are monstrous white range rovers and souped-up BMWs aligned together like Dominos in the front entrance.

Toppert, out of Albuquerque, was known for elevating his performances when the stakes were raised.

Against Brown, with Mike Martin and Pat Powers and Jason Forte applying steady pressure, Toppert poured in 28 second half points. Toppert drained seven 3-pointers against Syracuse's national championship team in 2003, a lineup which included the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick, sharpshooter Gerry McNamara, and Josh Pace. 



"Cody really knows his stuff. He pushes guys past their limits and
helps them transform their skills. I continue to learn from him and any
player that has a chance to work with him should."


“Cody doesn’t only challenge his players physically, but mentally as well. The most difficult challenges you will face in high-level basketball are mental. These are aspects like staying ready when you hear your number called. Being versatile at more than one position. Ways to work through a funk. That was the biggest aspect of my game that grew this summer.”

“The mental side of the game is really what progressed and I can’t wait to continue working with Cody as my career moves forward.”

Brady Heslip, KK Igokea, Adriatic League-Bosnia

“Training with Cody was the best experience I have had for my basketball development and focus. He was organized and innovative with how we trained every day. There were days when I was tired and Cody motivated me to push through and get once percent better each day.”

“He’s an absolute workhorse and he pushes me to levels that I probably wouldn’t get to otherwise. I will be training with him for a long time.”

Cleanthony Early, New York Knicks

“I had a blast training with Cody. The time I spent training at Elev8 (summer of 2014) really helped my game. From skill work to strength and conditioning, everything we did was intense. It is always full throttle with him. Those are truly some great guys with a great program.”