Despite DeAndre Liggins’ departure for greener pastures, the Wildcats have two quality small forwards lying in wait with lone 6-foot-7 senior Darius Miller and highly touted 6-foot-7 freshman Michael Gilchrist.
Coach John Calipari has a fairly difficult upcoming decision in choosing which one will start at the 3 spot. Not a bad problem to have by any means, but his job is to make sure no feelings get hurt in the process.
This could ultimately create divide between the two players.
Barring an injury, Calipari will more than likely roll out the following starting lineup, with the small-foward spot in question:
PG - Marquis Teague
SG - Doron Lamb
SF - Darius Miller/Michael Gilchrist
PF - Terrence Jones
C - Anthony Davis
If Miller starts at the 3, how will Gilchrist react to coming off the bench?
Can a freshman superstar swallow his ego and take one for the team?
If Gilchrist starts at the 3 would Darius Miller feel slighted coming off the bench as the lone senior on the team?
These are a few of the questions Calipari must address during the decision process.
Gilchrist defends, rebounds, and possesses freakish athleticism combined with an ultra-competitive drive. To say he defends is an understatement—he’s arguably the best defender in his class.
One of the only downfalls to his game is his questionable perimeter jump shot, but it’s improving. His strength, length, athleticism, agility and knack for the ball will carry him on the glass and in return should create plenty of mop-up and mid-range opportunities, where he excels.
Gilchrist should develop into a double-double machine at the collegiate level and his makeup might be the best Kentucky has ever seen.
Miller also defends and rebounds, but possesses a more dynamic offensive skill set at this stage. He’s a better perimeter shooter than Gilchrist and also has the ability to post up smaller defenders as he showed a nice back-to-the basket game as last season progressed.
One of Miller’s few downfalls in the past has been his questionable competitive drive and lack of aggressiveness/confidence on the offensive end. I believe he showed marked improvement in those areas this past season.
Miller has by far the most experience of anyone on roster and is expected to take on the leadership role this season.
I’ve heard a few fans lobbying for Miller to start at the two in place of Lamb, which would allow Gilchrist to play the 3—I even heard somebody lobbying to move Teague to the bench and Lamb to point, allowing Miller and Gilly to start at the 2 and 3 positions respectively.
Both are possible rotations, but long shots nonetheless when talking about the starting lineup.
Rest assured, regardless of the outcome, both will get plenty of minutes. Whichever one doesn’t start will more than likely be the best sixth man in the country.
All that being said, my vote goes to Darius Miller. I want another perimeter threat playing alongside Lamb out of the gate and I feel the young man from Maysville, Ky has more than paid his dues to earn the spot.
I’m just hoping whichever one does come off the bench is mature enough to handle the situation.