East Carolina basketball has a Miles James and a J.J. Miles this season.

Adding to the possible confusion between the two on a revamped Pirate roster is they are both tall guards looking to make this ECU team better at 3-point shooting compared to last year.

A unique thing about (J.J.) Miles, who is 6-foot-7 and one inch taller than James, is that on a roster that includes two players who are California natives, two from Texas, one from the Democratic Republic of Congo and another from Guadeloupe, Miles and sophomore forward Jayden Gardner are the only two scholarship players who are North Carolina natives.

“I had some friends who were already here and I knew a little bit about the campus, but I didn’t know too much sports-wise,” Miles said of his recruitment by ECU when he was at Cape Fear Community College last season. “The coaching staff had a strong part in it and I felt they really liked me as a person and as a player. It is tough here at times (with 11 new players), but we are getting better every day at becoming a team and working on team chemistry. ... It’s very exciting.”

Miles grew up in Garysburg and went to Northampton High School, where he averaged 29.9 points and 21.6 rebounds per game as a senior and scored 18 points in the 2017 North Carolina High School Athletic Association East-West All-Star Game.

He went off to Chipola (Fla.) College for one season and came back to eastern North Carolina to play at Cape Fear, which also helped link the lanky guard to ECU and Pirate coach Joe Dooley and Dooley's staff.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t think too much about the future and liked to just play,” Miles said. “I got taller and started getting better at it. College became an option after a while.”

What Miles does best and what the Pirates are hoping to have him do in Greenville is shoot from the perimeter.

He shot 34.6 percent (92-of-266) from beyond the 3-point arc at Cape Fear, highlighted by 10 games shooting better than 40.0 percent in which he made at least three 3s.

“He and Miles, both, is when you look at size and athleticism and length you want out on the wing,” Dooley said. “We were so small last year at every position, especially on the wing when you were playing against 6-7 and 6-6 guards. I think J.J. and Miles, and we will play Bitumba Baruti (6-7, 225 pounds) at the 3 a lot this year, those guys all brought size and athleticism. I think the shooting ability by J.J. and Miles will help stretch the floor for us.”

ECU shot 28.4 percent on 3-pointers last year, making 155 out of 545 shots. Opponents shot 32.9 percent.

Miles added that rebounding and defense have been important for him to focus on and for his game during the preseason.

“I’m working on getting better defensively, so I can guard the opposition better,” he said.

Preseason poll

Gardner was picked on the AAC preseason second-team released Monday morning as part of the conference's media day event in Philadelphia.

Houston and Memphis, which has potential star freshman big man James Wiseman, were co-favorites for first place in the preseason poll. The Pirates were 11th, ahead of only Tulane.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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