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Two sports, no problems for No. 2 basketball prospect Olivia Miles

On the basketball court, junior prospect Olivia Miles is a combination of Sue Bird, Steve Nash and Diana Taurasi. Michael Reaves/Getty Images

PHOENIX -- Olivia Miles is rare.

But it's not because the Blair Academy junior is a 5-foot-10 point guard with Sue Bird-like vision, Steve Nash-like smoothness and a Diana Taurasi-like ability to bully fellow guards with her size. It's also not because she's still undecided on a college.

It's because she plays two sports -- and plays them well.

Despite being the second-ranked player in the Class of 2021, Miles spends her falls on the soccer pitch, purposefully putting basketball away for a few months, with the exception of a couple of hours every Thursday, when she goes to open gym with college coaches usually watching.

The simple act of playing multiple sports is as rare as Miles is on the court. These days, top-tier high school athletes with big-time scholarship offers usually don't want to risk their collegiate careers by playing a second sport.

Miles, on the other hand, loves it.

"It's so helpful playing soccer, not even because it's fun," said Miles, who scored 17 goals this season. "I love it, but it's so helpful in so many different ways. Not even soccer. You could do lacrosse, field hockey, anything you want. It just helps you a lot in the grand scheme of basketball and your health, mental health, physical health, everything."

Soccer not only offers Miles a chance to debrief from the rigors of summer basketball and prepare for the long haul of the regular season. It also puts her in a different environment with different teammates, which leads to different friends.

Soccer practice begins in early September, and the season ends in early November. Soccer and basketball seasons don't overlap, which is a good thing, Miles says, so she doesn't have to choose one or the other -- or play both simultaneously.

"I just don't pass it in soccer, and it's so strange. In basketball, I love setting up my teammates. It's very rewarding." Olivia Miles

But it usually takes her about a week to get her shot back. When she does hit the court, key muscles and areas of her body, such as her arms and entire upper body, are well rested. She starts basketball season in better shape than she would if she didn't play soccer, even though soccer and basketball require different types of conditioning.

"I think for someone like Olivia, if she played basketball year-round, it would just wear her out," Blair coach Quint Clark said. "I think getting that break and being excited to get [to] the gym and excited to play again and all that is really helpful."

This year, in particular, the break from basketball came at the perfect time.

Sept. 1 was the start of the open recruiting period, and coaches flooded Miles' phones. She has one phone specifically for recruiting, but coaches found her other number, so the attention came from all sides. She was sitting on a beach in Wildwood, New Jersey, with her parents when the calls and texts came rolling in.

When she returned to school, though, it was time for soccer season to start, and that took her mind off basketball and her recruitment.

The recruiting process overwhelmed Miles at first. The contact was constant, and she was trying to balance soccer and basketball with trying to appease the coaches who were reaching out. For the most part, coaches were understanding. However, there were some who weren't.

"Some here or there are like, 'Oh, you're not answering me,' like all this stuff," Miles said. "But it's fine.

"A couple of them were like, 'I've reached out for the third time. If you're not going to respond, we're going to stop texting,' or something like that. You know, it's fine."

For now, Miles has narrowed her list to six schools: North Carolina, Stanford, Notre Dame, Oregon, Princeton and Connecticut.

Miles' recruitment likely would be over if coach Courtney Banghart hadn't gone from Princeton to North Carolina.

"I would have gone there if she didn't leave," Miles said. "I wouldn't have committed there, but it would've had a very high chance because all my family wants to see me play."

Miles' initial plan was to commit by the Boo Williams Nike Invitational, but that's in late April, about three weeks after she can start taking official visits. Her new plan is to commit by August or September. Only four of the ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 have committed.

Whichever school lands Miles will gain a unique blend of talent, skill and size.

"If you back up, she shoots. She really puts a lot of pressure on the defense," Clark said. "And she's a great athlete, but she doesn't beat people with her athleticism as much as with her brain. But she'll get the ball right here, and you don't know if she's gonna grab it or not, and however you move, she then reacts to it."

Who Miles is as a basketball player is a result of who she is a soccer player -- even if her roles are polar opposites. Footwork translates between sports, as does the idea of moving as a unit. There are 4-on-2s and 3-on-1s.

As a forward, Miles' role is to attack and score. As a point guard, her job is to set up her teammates.

"Very opposite," she said. "I think about that all the time, how in soccer, I'm like, 'Should I be passing more?' But I'm just like, 'No, I'm just gonna shoot it.'

"I just don't pass it in soccer, and it's so strange. In basketball, I love setting up my teammates. It's very rewarding."

Miles is proof that a young athlete can play at least two sports and be successful. Proof that one sport helps another. Proof that it's possible to avoid burnout at a young age.

"Oh, my gosh, that's what I'm scared of when I stop playing soccer," she said, "that I'm just gonna be consumed with basketball."

Miles might be on the fast track to the WNBA, and she has a ceiling of "being one of the great women's basketball players in the world," Clark said, but one of her lasting legacies might be showing other athletes that it's OK to play two sports.

"Like, if you're thinking, 'I don't want to go to the gym today,' you need to take breaks," Clark said. "Professionals do it. LeBron's not grinding all the time. They need that break, and maybe you need to go do something else and, especially, if it's a sport where it's fun and you can do it in a way that's uplifting."

Miles started playing soccer as soon as she could walk. Her father grew up playing soccer and introduced her to sports. He initially wanted her to be a runner because that was his other sport. She had no desire to run but loved soccer.

"We would go out in the backyard for countless hours and just kick around or go to a field and shoot in the net, whatever it be," she said. "We were always together, always kicking around a soccer ball. Whenever you saw us together, there was always a ball, like, next to us."

If time weren't a factor, Miles would have liked to play soccer on more competitive levels, treating it similarly to how she did basketball, which she started playing in fourth grade. If she had done that, who knows how good she would've been.

"I talk about this with my parents all the time," Miles said. "I probably would be really good."

Clark gave Miles the idea of playing two sports in college and thinks there's no doubt that she could be at least a Division I soccer player if she were to focus more on the sport. Miles' dad has brought up the idea of practicing with the soccer team at whichever college she chooses, in part because he doesn't want her to part ways with the sport and in part because of the physical benefits.

"It gets me, like, emotional thinking that I have to stop playing next year," she said. "But it's been a fun ride."