With four starters from last year’s University of Kentucky basketball team now in the NBA, and the number one ranked recruiting class entering again this season it is easy to see why Darius Miller, the lone returning starter, gets overlooked.
Entering last season, head coach John Calipari raved that Miller was the best suited for his Dribble Drive offense of any player left from the Billy Gillespie era at Kentucky. Miller possessed a mid-range game with a running floater that Calipari said would be hard to stop in his uptempo offense.
As his sophomore season came and went, Miller showed flashes of his scoring potential with a few breakout games. But, he never seemed to put it all together and become the player that most expected he would be. Most games, you would forget Miller was out on the floor, due to his lack of consistency on the court.
Last season, the Wildcats did not need Miller to always have his “A” game for them to be victorious. Behind the perimeter play of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, the inside force of Demarcus Cousins, along with team leader Patrick Patterson, Miller only needed to be productive in spurts for the Wildcats to win.
This season, Miller will be asked to do more than just be one of the guys on the court for the Wildcats. Even with the top recruiting class, the Wildcats will not be able to count on Brandon Knight to be the next John Wall, Enes Kanter to dominate the paint as Cousins did, or Terrance Jones having the leadership abilities or the knack for hitting big shots as Patterson could.
In his junior season, Miller will have to be the guy that is the leader on and off the court. His experience the past two seasons will play a major part in how successful the Wildcats are this season, and more importantly, the NCAA tournament. The former four star basketball recruit will be the guy that is looked to to bring stability that every young basketball team needs at some point during the season.
If Miller becomes the leader off the basketball court, the pressure will not be solely on the shoulders of the incoming freshmen to lead this season. Every team needs a workhorse player that may not be the guy with all the headlines, but the guy that does a little bit of everything to help put his team over the top.
For the 2010-2011 season to be as successful as Wildcat fans would like, Miller is going to have to be the guy hitting big shots, grabbing important rebounds, and most importantly letting this new crop of freshmen teammates know what to do in tough, stress packed situations.