This blog has been a huge fan of Darius Miller since he was a junior at Mason County High School. We have followed his career through his naming as Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 2008. We cheered him when he played his first
two season under Billy Gillispie, and he has improved every single year he has been at Kentucky in every measurable way, and several unmeasurable ways, including leadership and setting an outstanding example of what a Kentucky player should be.
I want to recognize that Eloy Vargas is also graduating this year, and although this article is dedicated to Miller, it should be noted that Vargas has been a fine teammate and a hard worker in his two years at Kentucky. He has never been the star some thought he should be coming out of high school, but he hasn't been a disappointment, either. He has provided valuable reserve services for Kentucky in both of the last two years at need, and he has never complained or pouted about his lack of playing time. Instead, he has been the epitome of a team-first man, and his contributions to this team should not and will not go unnoticed.
Many were upset when Scotty Hopson chose Tennessee over Kentucky, preferring Hopson's higher national profile and much-vaunted athleticism to Miller's steady, team-first game. In the end, however, it will not be Hopson who walks away from college with a degree and, at minimum, a Final Four to his credit. I say at minimum, because the Big Enchilada, an NCAA Tournament championship, could well adorn Miller's trophy case as well.
Many pixels have been darkened about Miller, and we have all been critical at times of his tendency to disappear into the background of some games when we think he should assert himself. But Miller has proven time and time again that he plays this game the right way -- unselfish to a fault, but with determination, consistency, and unrelenting effort.
Miller has represented Kentucky basketball in an outstanding manner throughout his four years, in good times and in bad. He suffered through the debacle of Coach Gillispie's term in respectful silence, doing everything he was asked, when he was asked. Never a peep came to the media of dissatisfaction or unhappiness with Gillispie, and to his great credit, we haven't heard a peep since. Miller has never been about anything but doing exactly what he was expected to do, in the classroom and in the court, to the best of his ability. The drama that surrounded the program at various times during his four years here seemed never to touch him in even the smallest way. He always remained positive, he never gave up or allowed despair, if he ever felt any, to show to anyone.
There have been few players in Kentucky history who have amassed a profile as excellent as Miller's in such a quiet, unassuming way. We never heard about Miller in the off-season except for the praise of coaches and teammates for his exploits in foreign lands when he played for U.S. amateur teams. Miller has never been taken to task for being selfish, belittling his opponents, behaving badly after hours, or treating others disrespectfully in any way. His career, from start to finish, has been above any reproach in every aspect. That is a rare accomplishment these days that few will notice -- but we will.
On a personal level, I will miss Darius Miller perhaps more than any Kentucky basketball player I can remember save Chuck Hayes, and I will miss him no less. In many ways, the two had similar careers, except Miller's had even less personal drama that Hayes did. But they both represent the very best of Kentucky basketball, and without any intent to disparage by comparison the other fine players in this program and elsewhere, the very dictionary definition of "student athlete."
There can never be too many Darius Millers at Kentucky. In fact, there can hardly be enough. Thank you, Darius, from the heart and soul of the Big Blue Nation. You sir, are all we could ever ask for in a student athlete at the University of Kentucky. Your actions and career here reflect great credit on you, and we are fortunate to be able to bask in the reflected glory of your wonderful career.
I expect to have more to say when Miller has played his final game, and has moved on to the next level of basketball where he will surely succeed. But for now, suffice it to say that I wish I could be in attendance tonight as I was when Hayes played his senior night game. Instead, I'll be watching at home -- but that won't stop a tear or three.
Darius Miller proud to stay at University of Kentucky all four years // Cincinnati.com
Kentucky basketball senior Darius Miller is 'glue' for No. 1 UK // The Courier-Journal
Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas: So Long Seniors // Wildcat Blue Nation