5 - Miller

Maysville native Darius Miller (1) defends Portland's David Carr (35) in this file photo from Kentucky's 87-63 win Nov. 26 in Lexington. Miller is preparing for the upcoming NBA draft.

Tammie Brown, The Ledger Independent

The next challenge for Darius Miller is getting near.

After succeeding and being on championship teams on every level of basketball he has played, the former Mr. Basketball from Maysville is readying himself for the next step, a professional career.

The National Basketball Association is conducting its annual draft next Thursday evening and speculation about which player will get picked where and by which team is running rampant on the Internet.

Brian Miller, Darius' father, has his own opinion on the guessing game, which includes projections that Miller will be picked 42nd by the Milwaukee Bucks by nbadraft.net and 36th by the Sacramento Kings from the draftexpress.com site in their latest updates.

"There are a lot of those mock drafts but it only takes one (team to like you)," he said. "What people don't take into consideration when they look at those mock drafts is that they don't know what goes on behind closed doors with general managers and coaches. Every team needs a player who can come in and contribute and it all comes down to that one GM who believes that Darius will be able to help their team."

Darius has been projected to be anywhere from a late first-round pick or a round two selection but like Brian says, it only takes one.

The younger Miller tweaked a hamstring during a workout for the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday but thoroughly impressed Grizzlies' director of player personnel Tony Barone Sr. with his performance before he was injured.

Brian says Darius "is fine and doing well" and added that he's going through treatment for the injury and had to cancel a couple of workouts he had scheduled for other NBA teams.

"In the workouts he's had so far, Darius has surprised some people with his athleticism and he's been shooting the ball well," he said. "He's already played with a lot of guys who are in the NBA, so it's nothing new to him. He played with a lot of great talent at UK but he went also through all that adversity while he was there, which I feel really helped him to grow up to be a man. He showed a lot of intensity when he was faced with adversity and he was like, 'You can't break me.'"

The adversity Brian was referring to was the previous coach at Kentucky, Billy Gillispie, who was fired and the subsequent adjusting period to the new staff after Gillispie recruited and coached Darius for a couple of years. He may have also have been intimating about some of the criticism leveled at Miller during his career at UK.

The naysayers were answered when the Wildcats put together a season to remember, going 38-2 and winning their eighth national championship, with Miller being the unquestioned team leader throughout the year.

"Darius was the glue, in my opinion," Brian said. "He had the most experience and he brought leadership to a team that had a lot of talent. It's hard to set aside personal goals for a lot of kids but Darius was always all about winning and team. He was that blue collar worker, he led by example and he sacrificed for the betterment of the team, which carried over to everyone on the team."

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Brian and his wife Nicole are understandably very proud of their son, who they have followed closely in Lexington and on the road throughout his career.

"Well, things have settled down some for now, but June 28 (NBA Draft night) can't get here fast enough for us. We're anxious and nervous about where Darius is going to go but the main thing is we want him to go to a team where he can play and get an opportunity," Brian said. "Nothing will surprise him, he's already won three AAU titles, a gold medal, a state championship and a national championship."

There is no question that the 2012-2013 version of the Wildcats will miss Miller's leadership qualities but Brian believes they will still be a very good team.

"Coach Calipari will still have some good talent coming in but it will be an almost new team," he said. "They will have a good nucleus so they're still gonna be pretty good. The important thing is they have players who know how to win."

Brian, who played at Morehead State, was heading to the gym to play some hoops after he spoke to the Ledger Independent and added that he lets Darius know that he can still take him on the court.

"Nicole gets tired of hearing it, but yeah I still tell him," he said. "I didn't take it easy on him when he was younger."

Plans are in place for Darius to be the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade and according to his close friend, Terrence Commodore, an autograph session is also set to coincide with his visit to his hometown. The autograph session, which includes a signed poster with a cost of $20 per person, will be at Walmart on July 4 from noon-2 p.m.


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