When the Arizona Wildcats host their final two regular-season games this week, there's no guarantee senior guard Dondre Wise will get into either of them.
But for Wise, it's never been about playing time. Nor has it been about scholarship funds.
It's mostly been about learning, relationship building and hard work, three things that Wise is hoping will carry him into a coaching career after his graduation this May.
The younger brother of former UA standout point guard Nic Wise, Dondre joined the Wildcats as a reserve guard out of Pima College in 2009 when Nic decided to stay for his senior season at Arizona rather than turn professional.
But Dondre wound up staying long after Nic left in 2010, even this season as a senior, when he was asked to give up his scholarship from the past two seasons and walk on because Arizona had lost a scholarship to NCAA sanctions.
It took only one conversation with Miller during the 2009 Maui Invitational, just a few games into the first UA season for both of them, to persuade Wise that it was worth finishing his college career at Arizona.
"When we went to Hawaii, Coach Miller brought it up to me that I could be a coach in the future, and that's why I stayed on," Wise said. "When he saw that in me, I figured that's the route I should go anyway."
Wise's father, Greg, was not surprised. The coach at perennial Houston power Yates High School, Greg Wise said the strong bond between Miller and Dondre only further cemented a career path he long figured his son would take.
Greg Wise didn't coach during the school year when Nic and Dondre were playing in high school, preferring to watch them and concentrate on his real estate work. But he did mentor them in summer circuits.
"I could tell him something and he'd pick it up right away," Greg Wise said. "Even when he was playing on our summer team, he would help the guys and tell them what to do."
As with Miller, the son of a well-regarded Pennsylvania high school coach and the brother of Dayton head coach Archie Miller, Wise basically grew up with the game.
Not only is Greg in coaching, while Nic is in the second year of a successful European career, but Dondre also credits the influence of his former high school coach, Royce Huseman. And he remains particularly close with former NBA coach John Lucas, who trains differing levels of elite players in Houston.
"I call Coach Lucas my uncle or second dad," Wise said. "I'm always at his house. Whenever I get home, that's the first place I go to besides my house."
All that is why, after just a few weeks of full practices, Miller knew he had somebody on hand who was more than just a practice player hanging around because of his older brother.
"Dondre has basketball in his blood," Miller said.
Wise said the coaches in his life have had different influences. His father and Lucas serve as what he calls "life coaches," helping as much off the court as on it. Huseman led Kingwood High School teams with both Wise brothers to a 73-10 mark over two seasons because of team maturity and a defensive focus.
"That's why we were good," Wise said. "Before me, Nic and (eventual Texas Tech forward) Mike Singletary, they never really had too many big-name players, but they always had that defensive aspect."
After averaging 10.7 points during the 2007-08 season at Pima, Wise sat out a year before he brought a defensive focus to Wildcat practices that he said Miller appreciated.
In return, Miller taught Wise about managing people.
It's "the way he treats his players off the court," Wise said of what he has learned from Miller. "He loves all his players. He checks up on you to make sure you're OK and things like that.
"On the court he's hard on you, but at the same time he wants the best for his players. It's nothing personal or anything like that. Some coaches give you a sense that they wouldn't care about you, but off the court he shows he cares about you as much as about basketball on the court."
Also a potential recruiter with what his father calls a "sunny side" to his easygoing personality, Dondre Wise said he's aiming to start coaching at Arizona in any sort of post-graduate role Miller might have.
Miller said he didn't know if he'll be able to offer anything next season, but that he wanted to make sure he helped Dondre take his next step somewhere.
"Everybody respects him," Miller said. "We want to be very helpful to him, but I have no doubt he'll be successful as a coach. I think he's going to make a great coach whatever path he starts out at."
On StarNet: Follow the Cats as they continue to fight for an NCAA tournament berth at azstarnet.com/pascoe
• What: USC at Arizona
• When: 6:30 p.m.
• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)