Darius Miller, Championship-Caliber Sixth Man
Often teams are trying to project how a top college player’s skills will play out in a significantly different role at the NBA level, but Darius Miller came off Kentucky’s bench as one of college’s best supporting role players and is comfortable playing behind stars.
“I have been like that for the past four years,” said Miller. “I have played with a lot of talent, a lot of NBA players, so I feel like I would be comfortable in that environment.”
Miller had a solid four year career with Kentucky playing with future NBA players Brandon Knight, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe among others and is one of six Wildcats expected to be selected in this year’s NBA draft.
At 6’ 7.5” and 233 lbs, Miller has good size for an NBA wing player and at 22-years-old, he is stronger than many of the younger players entering the draft. Benefiting from an extended college career, each season saw an improvement in his game, even if it wasn’t always reflected in his statistics at the end of the year. Playing at guard or forward, Miller is a capable defender who can knock down shots and has the maturity to defer to his more talented teammates when appropriate.
As the sixth man on a deep NCAA championship team, Miller’s minutes and personal statistics dropped from his junior season, but during the Wildcats tournament run, the senior provided the leadership needed for success. Coach Calipari played Miller 30 minutes per game off the bench and Miller provided the big shots and big plays to average 11.7 points on 56 percent shooting for the tournament. Miller is a player who can contribute in the big moments.
Miller is projected as the last Wildcat to be selected in this year’s draft and is expected to be an early second round pick, but the possibility of being the last one chosen amongst his former teammates hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the process.
“We are all happy we get to experience this with one another,” said Miller. “We get to see each other. We haven’t seen each other in a while so we are having fun with it, especially in an environment like this.
“Not a lot of people get to experience what I am going through so I am happy to be a part of it. At the same time, I am trying to go as high as possible.
“I have always wanted to be a part of this. I have dreamed about playing in the NBA since I was little. This is fun for me.”
NBA teams are always looking for the second round draft pick who has a legitimate chance of cracking their roster and making a contribution as a rookie. Miller has a chance to be that guy. A heavily scouted and well understood commodity, teams will know what they are getting and Miller will be comfortable playing a supporting role. He might be the last Wildcat taken on draft night, but based on his college career, he shouldn’t have to wait very long.