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Draft combine star Isaiah Miles embraces comic book fandom

CHICAGO -- There are a lot of labels you could put on Isaiah Miles: senior, forward, Saint Joseph's Hawk, potential NBA draftee, prospect with rising stock and so on. But at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, there was another label Miles applied to himself.

"I'm a nerd," he said.

The 6-foot-7 senior who averaged 18.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds last season doesn't back away from that label. In fact, he wears it on his sleeve -- literally.

Miles has comic book characters and logos tattooed on the full length of his right arm, having received his first one when he was about 17. He then added to the artwork throughout the years. But his comic fandom, which was passed down from his father, goes back even further than that.

"As long as I can remember, just waking up those Saturday mornings and watching those Saturday morning comic [cartoons]," he said. "Spider-Man, Justice League, Amazing Friends, all that stuff. [My dad] definitely introduced me to that stuff at a young age."

As a basketball player, Miles is torn between two worlds when it comes to his comic fandom. None of his teammates at Saint Joe's were interested in sharing his hobby, while fellow hobbyists looked at him as a bit of an outsider.

"They're like 'You're a basketball player, you don't do stuff like this,' but I love it," he said. "It's definitely cool. It's definitely something to talk about and I just have an attachment to it outside of basketball."

Inside the world of basketball, Miles is projected as a borderline second-round pick who might've turned heads with his performance at the combine. He scored a game-high 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting with six rebounds in the first scrimmage on Friday. And he wasn't alone among the prospects when it came to a love for comics. Syracuse's Michael Gbinije was sporting multiple Batman-related tattoos, including Heath Ledger's Joker from "The Dark Knight," and said he has watched "The Dark Knight Rises" at least 20 times this year.

If the duo ended up on the same team, or on a team with the Lopez Twins -- both huge comic fans who are planning on creating their own book -- they'd have something to talk about off the court.

"That'd be great," Miles said. "My team back in school, they don't know anything about it, so I can't talk to anyone about it. Actually, I could talk about [comics] forever, so to have [a teammate] to talk about it with, that'd be amazing."

Miles has been busy with draft prep and graduation -- he flew back to Philadelphia on Friday night to walk in his graduation ceremony before returning to Chicago for more physical exams and team interviews -- so he hasn't seen "Captain America: Civil War" yet, but said his favorite comic movie came out earlier this year.

"My favorite movie out so far is 'Deadpool,'" he said. "I gotta buy the DVD. I don't buy the DVDs, but I'll buy 'Deadpool.'"

And it's no surprise that a player who was a double-double machine for Saint Joe's as a senior (10 double-doubles, sixth in the Atlantic 10) gravitates toward characters who specialize in more than one thing.

"I like the 'Justice League' Flash, because I like the comic characters who are funny," he said. "Deadpool, you know, he's funny. I like dudes who are funny but could also kick your tail."