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By LARRY VAUGHT
Darius Miller has compiled some impressive statistics during his four-year career that Kentucky and is the only UKâ€ˆplayer that has been part of every game in the current 51-game home winning streak going into Thursday nightâ€™s game against Georgia.
It will be Millerâ€™s final Rupp Arena appearance, the court where he starred in the state high school tournament for Mason County and has made numerous big plays for the Wildcats.
He has 1,139 career points, 456 rebounds, 258 assists, 104 steals and 96 blocked shots. Heâ€™s made 161 3-point shots, including 42 this season.
â€œNumbers really donâ€™t matter that much to me,â€ said Miller. â€œI just do what our team needs and what the coaching staff wants. Points and stuff just donâ€™t matter if you donâ€™t win.â€
Heâ€™s also mentored numerous players, especially the last two years.
â€œHe talks a lot, especially to me because I am so young as a player. He has helped me so much with just a lot of stuff. Iâ€ˆlook up to him not just as a player, but as a person,â€ Kentucky freshman Michael-Kidd Gilchrist said.
Here is what various media members that cover the University of Kentucky say they will remember most about Millerâ€™s career.
Tom Leach, UKâ€ˆRadio Network.
â€œResilient is perhaps the word that best describes Darius.Â Whether itâ€™s a person or a thoroughbred, I really admire that never-give-in quality and Darius is a player who has persevered through every setback heâ€™s had over four years.Â By my count, Kentucky is 20-1 when Darius scores 15 or more in a game and I think that stat underscores how much better the Cats are when Darius is playing at his best. Darius is easily the most versatile player on this team and thatâ€™s probably been true for every one of his four seasons at Kentucky. Weâ€™ve seen play the point and I remember Cal using him at the 5 spot in Canada two years ago.Â Tayshaun Prince had that rare kind of versatility â€”t he ability to be just as effective in the paint asÂ he was at the 3-point line â€” and thatâ€™s a pretty good guy to whom one can be compared in UK lore.
I grew up following 10th Region basketball, where Darius played for Mason County, so heâ€™s always been one of my favorites for that reason, too.Â I remember interviewing Pittâ€™s Jaime Dixon after he coached Darius in the under-19 tournament a few years ago and he kept coming back to a statement about what a quality person Darius was â€” Iâ€™m guessing thatâ€™s how his teammates will remember him,too.â€
Mary Jo Perino, WLEXâ€“TV, WVLK.
â€œWhat I am going to remember most about Darius Miller â€¦.Â Darius is still the same person I started covering in the eighth grade. He is humble, smart, dedicated. Darius has always been, from the outside looking in anyway, the best teammate you could have. Unselfish, but always there in the clutch when you need him. He doesnâ€™t care how many points he scores, he just wants to win a national championship. I will remember Darius as a hell of a ball player and an even better person.â€
Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Radio.
â€œThere have been times that I didnâ€™t have a lot of confidence in Darius Miller, but as soon as that happens, he always did something to get my confidence in him back. He flat out carried the Cats during the SECTtournament and for most of the second half of the season last year.Â This year he really struggled shooting the basketball to start the season, but he worked at it and got his shot back. I would now want the ball in his hands to take the last second shot for the Cats.
â€œThe thing Iâ€™ll remember about him most is his character. There were times when he didnâ€™t play well, but he never got down. There were times when his shot didnâ€™t fall, but he never pouted or got mad.Â He lost his starting job his senior year after being a starter for most of his career, but he that didnâ€™t change him, his game, or his approach to the game.Â This entire season, heâ€™s been the first guy out of the floor getting up some shots at Rupp Arena on game nights.Â I like to see that. Thatâ€™s the kind of teammate I want on my team. I can only hope my three sons can some day grow up to be like Darius Miller, more as a person than the player.â€
* * *
To come: see what Larry Glover, Mike Pratt,Â Keith Taylor and Alan Cutler will remember most about Miller.