Last Updated: Wed Oct 13, 2021 - 9:11PM
Jeannette’s football tradition is nearly unparalleled in Pennsylvania, but the Jayhawks have also boasted a powerhouse boys basketball program for more than a decade. One of the athletes who enjoyed success at Jeannette in both sports is Miles Sunder, who then went on to serve as a cornerstone for the newly-formed men’s basketball program at Carlow University. Sunder, who has since relocated to Texas, is featured in this edition of the Westmoreland Where Are They Now?
On the hardwood at Jeannette, Sunder cracked the varsity roster as a sophomore in 2011-12. That season, the Jayhawks posted a record of 17-9, including 9-3 in section play. After qualifying for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, Jeannette defeated Fort Cherry and Wilkinsburg before falling to Beaver Falls in the quarterfinals. In the PIAA postseason, the Jayhawks defeated Smethport Area, but fell to rival Greensburg Central Catholic in the quarterfinals to conclude the season.
The following campaign, Sunder helped propel Jeannette to a mark of 18-6, and 10-2 in the section. Once again in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, the Jayhawks defeated Aliquippa, but lost to Apollo-Ridge in the quarterfinals. Jeannette advanced to the state playoffs, but fell to West Middlesex in the first round.
With Sunder ascending to one of the top players on the team in 2013-14, Jeannette went 13-10, and 7-5 in section play. In the WPIAL Class AA postseason, Jeannette knocked off Sto-Rox, but fell to Seton-LaSalle in the first round to conclude Sunder’s career on the hardwood at Jeannette.
“Basketball was always my go-to sport, so I was a little bit more focused because I wanted to progress with basketball,” Sunder said.
To a large extent, his interest in basketball was sparked by his other brother, Shaw Sunder, who was a key component on Jeannette’s PIAA Championship team in 2008 that featured Terrelle Pryor.
“My brother was a big help. It made everything smoother for me,” Miles Sunder noted. “I just wanted to be on that same level as them (the championship team).”
Sunder also noted that one of his fondest basketball memories with the Jayhawks was playing alongside Julian Batts, who was his best friend for most of their childhood.
“We always had fun, we always wanted to see each other succeed, and we always wanted to push each other to that next level,” he said of himself and Batts, who went on to play Division I basketball.
Earlier in his senior year, Sunder impressed on the gridiron for Jeannette, as he led the team with 19 receptions for 234 yards, and he scored a pair of touchdowns. Perhaps fittingly, as a receiver, Sunder caught most of his passes from Batts, who was the quarterback. In a rare down year for Jeannette, however, the Jayhawks went 4-5 and missed the playoffs.
“I feel like if you play basketball at Jeannette, you have to play football. It’s like a given there,” he said. “The whole coaching staff was very helpful, and they treated everyone like a big family there.”
That family atmosphere extended beyond just head coach Roy Hall and the football team, however. Sunder revealed that going to a small school like Jeannette had a significant benefit.
“You get to know everybody at the school. It was more of a closeness,” he said. “Everybody knew who you were, all the teachers knew you, and everybody wanted to see you succeed as a person.”
Following his graduation from Jeannette, Sunder matriculated to Carlow University, where he became a part of the first men’s basketball team in school history in 2014-15. That milestone, combined with the opportunity to play a significant role immediately, attracted Sunder to the school.
“I think that was a big thing in my life – just being able to say I was on the inaugural team there,” he said.
In his freshman season, Sunder played in 18 games, including 12 starts, averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, as well as 15 assists, 10 steals, and 10 blocks. As expected, the Celtics struggled that season, going just 2-22, including 0-13 in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC)
“That was a hard thing – just everybody trying to mesh with each other and play together, and playing against these other teams that had four-year seniors. It kind of made everybody grow really fast,” Sunder said.
The next season, Sunder played in 24 games, but his averages dipped to 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds, while he added 25 assists. Carlow improved to 6-20, including 1-14 in KIAC action.
In 2016-17, Sunder appeared in 27 games, averaging 8.0 points and 3.6 rebounds, as well as 33 assists, 25 steals, and 11 blocks. The Celtics posted a mark of 4-26, and 3-14 in the renamed River States Conference (RSC).
Sunder’s senior campaign saw him play in 20 contests, notching averages of 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds, as well as 27 assists, 10 steals, and nine blocks. Most significantly, however, the Celtics went 6-11 in the RSC, which qualified them for the conference tournament for the first time in program history. The Celtics lost to Indiana University Southeast in the quarterfinals, as Carlow’s historic season ended with a mark of 6-21.
“I was happy about that – just to be able to start the program and then to finish making the playoffs,” Sunder said.
He graduated in 2018 with a degree in business management and human resources, and then worked various jobs around Pittsburgh to help build his resume.
Eventually, Sunder moved to Orlando, Florida, joining his girlfriend, Alexis. Living in the Sunshine State for approximately one year, Sunder served as a delivery driver for FedEx.
“Honestly, I just wanted to get out of Pennsylvania and get to a little warmer weather and around the beach,” he explained. “I think that was a big step for me, leaving my whole family behind – that made me grow even more as a person.”
He relocated again in October, moving to Dallas, Texas. He currently works for Amazon, as part of the management trainee program.
“Just kind of climbing the corporate ladder right now,” he said.
After he concluded his career at Carlow, Sunder took some needed time away from athletics. However, he has played basketball periodically in recreation leagues.
Additionally, he’s stayed in close contact with a pair of former teammates with the Celtics – Norwin alum Zach Bryan, and Charlie Scharbo.
Sunder has also gained appreciation for some new sports since moving, as he has attended several rodeos, and has become more of a fan of baseball, thanks in part to the nearby Texas Rangers.
“Being able to see these different sports and how everybody lives differently is like a big thing for me,” Sunder said.
And while he’s also enjoyed following the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic, he noted that he’ll always remain a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, no matter where he lives.
- Westmoreland Alumni Q&A with Jayla Wehner The former Norwin girls basketball player is a sophomore at Marian University
- Westmoreland County Girls Basketball Round Up Thursday Derry earns important section victory, Belle Vernon blows out West Mifflin
- Westmoreland County Boys Basketball Round Up Tuesday GCC pulls away to defeat rival Jeannette, Crosby drops 35 points in Yough's win at Mount Pleasant
- Westmoreland County Girls Basketball Round Up Monday Derry's Moracco explodes for 39 points in win; Hempfield Area claims first section victory
- Westmoreland County Girls Basketball Round Up Thursday Penn-Trafford pulls away from Pine-Richland; Belle Vernon tops Ligonier Valley