Darius Miller’s importance could not be overstated.
The Daily’s Dan Wolken calls Miller the “last impactful senior John Calipari will ever coach,” and he might be right.
Miller had 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting in Kentucky’s win over Louisville on Saturday night in New Orleans and, though stellar freshman like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may get the majority of the spotlight, Miller’s handy work is the a big reason why Kentucky is one win away from a national title.
The senior has been made a difference throughout the tournament, scoring 19 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State and Indiana, which pushed the Wildcats into the Elite Eight.
“He’s our senior leader. He’s been there since day one for us,” said freshman point guard Marquis Teague after Saturday night’s win. “Whenever we get a little hectic on the floor, he huddles us together, tells us to stay poised. We always look to him for leadership.”
Surrounded by so many freshman, one can imagine Miller as an old man, sitting on his rocking chair, telling the young ones about what it was like to play college basketball back in—get this—2008.
He has seen players like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brandon Knight pass through the program, all while he continued to build his game and become the player that has been arguably the best sixth man in the country.
“He calms us down and tells us what to do. He’s a great leader,” said Davis. “That’s what he does at crunch time, tells you what to do. “
And even being around these freshman, Miller doesn’t feel like the elder statesman.
“These guys don’t play like freshmen. Y’all been watching them play all year,” he said. “They play like seniors in college. We’ve been successful in those situations throughout the whole year. So I don’t have any doubt, no. Not at all.”
There aren’t many doubts that Kentucky is in prime position to cut down the nets on Monday night, either.