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'Sister – Sister': ASU Women's Basketball debuts the Miller Sisters in Tempe

Taylyn Hadley Avatar
November 26, 2023

Navigating the journey of growing up with a closely aged sister can pose its own set of challenges.

Constant competition, disagreements over sharing clothes unwillingly and arguments about who gets to use the car often create ongoing challenges in the relationship with a sister.

For ASU women’s basketball’s Hanna and Mallory Miller, they took all those challenges growing up and turned it into something remarkable – a dual spot on a Division I basketball team.

Despite Hanna being the older sister, Mallory standing at 6-foot-4, is anything but her little sibling.

This remains accurate as the forward duo grew up side by side, cultivating their passion for basketball right where it all started for the sisters.

In the Miller’s barn in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

“It started in the barn with a rackety old hoop,” Hanna said. “Then as we got older it turned into a nicer hoop (and) we painted some lines on the ground in the cement.”

In that barn, the Millers’ passion for the game flourished, growing stronger over time and ultimately leading them to make the joint decision to follow each other to Tempe and proudly wear maroon and gold.

“Ever since we touched a basketball, (we) just fell in love,” Mallory said. “We played together and just grew a love for basketball while growing a relationship with each other.”

‘Sister – Sister’

When news surfaced that the sisters had reunited at the college level, it naturally sparked numerous questions.

Aren’t you sick of each other? Don’t you want to live your own lives? Are you ever not with each other? 

“No,” Mallory said with a laugh. “We played everything together and did everything together.”

Thanks to their shared love for basketball instilled by their father from an early age, the duo easily responded with a resounding “no” to the myriad of questions that arose.

“We’re basically the same person,” Mallory said. “We like a lot of the same stuff just because we were raised obviously by the same parents and we just have the same morals, same background, same work ethic, so we get along on pretty much everything.”

When Mallory says everything, she means everything. 

On top of the duo’s intense dedication to basketball, they also teamed up to dominate the Aberdeen Christian High School’s volleyball team and lead them to a state semi-finals appearance.

Despite their prominence on both the volleyball and basketball courts, the Miller sisters, towering over 6 feet tall, viewed volleyball more as a preparation for their upcoming basketball season.

“We loved basketball so much,” Hanna said. “We had more fun with our teammates and more fun with each other during volleyball because of the stress and the pressure we took off because basketball was our sport… so we just played volleyball for fun.”

While basketball came with the obvious stressors that correlate when passion intertwines with skill, the pair would take the good times over the bad every time.

Especially when they were able to go through them together.

In what they thought would be the final game of their shared career, Mallory remembers the two of them shedding tears in their hotel room the night before.

“We were just freaking out like, ‘We’re never gonna play basketball again,’” Mallory said. “To see that actually not become true and we’re here at Arizona State at a Pac-12, Power Five school, it’s crazy to see.”

Dual Sun Devils

Once again, in 2023, Hanna and Mallory find themselves side by side in a reunion they never thought would happen.

This time, 22 hours south of where it all started.

After Hanna graduated from Aberdeen, the Miller sisters experienced a solo year of living independent lives. Mallory was still in high school dominating the court during her senior season while Hanna spent her first college year at Dodge City Community College in Kansas.

Hanna was thankful and enjoyed her first year as a Conquistador but was never opposed to switching it up – especially if there was an offer that came alongside her younger sister. 

“I really liked my year at Dodge (and) I was ready to get out of the house and be on my own,” Hanna said. “But reconnecting with Mallory here for my second year has been super good so far. I’m glad we made the decision to come here and be back together.”

Simultaneously, Mallory was in the midst of being recruited by various universities. Eventually, an offer came in from New Mexico, which included a dual offer involving Hanna. Once ASU got wind of this offer, they extended a similar offer to the sisters.

“It was a pretty easy decision for me,” Mallory said. “I mean, also just Arizona State in general was a pretty easy decision for me just because when we came on our visit, it felt like the right environment to come too and the coaches were really welcoming of us.”

The coaches find themselves amid roster adjustments, navigating the challenges of a dynamic and ever-changing player lineup that includes the sisters in the mix.

In their first collegiate season together, Hanna has appeared in three games for the Sun Devils, securing four points after going 1 for 1 from the three-point line and adding a free throw to the mix. Mallory has made six appearances for the Sun Devils, contributing seven points, two assists, two blocks and a total of 14 rebounds.

While the ASU women’s squad kicks off their season with a 6-2 start, the Miller sisters are in the process of finding their rhythm in the lineup, all while doing it together.

In their pursuit of perfecting their game and securing consistent time on the court, the Miller sisters continuously challenge each other to reach their highest potential.

“I know how hard we pushed each other to get to this level,” Hanna said. “To finally see it pay off, it’s just so rewarding.” 

Being on the same team and working toward a shared goal provides the Miller sisters with the extra motivation they need to push each other every day.

It also makes them getting 1% better each day that much more special when one another has a hand in assisting it. 

“It’s super easy to send Mallory a text and be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to shoot, you want to come with me,” Hanna said. “Or ‘Let’s go get extra shots or let’s do a workout together,’ just because that’s what we’ve done our whole lives.”

Miller hits a three, assisted by Miller

Growing up, they always dragged each other to the gym or to the barn to get extra reps in and being far away from home together intensifies their motivation to achieve success and bring it back to Aberdeen.

For Hanna and Mallory, sharing the court together at one of the highest levels is an exceptionally special experience after all that they have gone through together to get there.

They stand witness to each other’s significant milestones and serve as each other’s greatest cheerleaders. The experience becomes even more special when they are physically present on the court for each other’s achievements.

“Actually, in our last game, Hanna and I had gotten in at the same time and she passed it to me, I passed back out to her and she hit a three,” Mallory said. “It was nice to see that because I know the work she puts in…everyone was just so happy for her that she was proving herself and doing well on the court.”

In return, Hanna reflected on being on the bench while witnessing her younger sister’s first collegiate basket. 

“I was on the bench going crazy,” Hanna said. “Because I know how much work she put in to get there.” 

The dedication and effort they put into their craft come to life every time the duo laces up for practice.

Although they say there is never any jealousy between them, they do admit to getting a little over-competitive at times. 

“When we’ll be doing sprints or conditioning at practice, we say, ‘Hey, you want to race like, let’s race, I’m about to beat you,’” Mallory said. “Hanna will win one then I’ll win a sprint. One time Hanna was beating me in a sprint so I grabbed the back of her jersey, pulled her back, so that I could be her in the sprint.”

To this, Hanna chipped in that she still wound up beating her younger sister. Even though they ultimately could not come to a consensus on the result. 

Granted who really won that day, both Hanna and Mallory are champions given their ability to hit the court side by side every single day. Achieving this feat is something they have always dreamed about.

“(Mallory said the) telling between basketball and our relationship was, ‘I don’t know basketball without Hanna. I don’t know Hanna without basketball,’” Hanna said. “I think that just literally ties our lives together.”

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