From KSR College’s Tara Bilby
Everyone knows that Calipari can secure some of the top recruits year after year. The question that most coaches have been asking Cal is not how he secures these top recruits, however, but how he plans on finding the next Darius Miller. It’s been said before but it’s worth repeating. While Darius was on the team he was the heart of the BBN fan base. He was a Kentucky boy who grew up watching the ‘Cats, was a fan, and made his dream come true when he finally donned the blue and white. He was an unselfish teammate, stepping up when he needed to, and stepping back when it would benefit the team. He was more concerned about where the team was going and how he was going to be a part of it getting there than he was about where he was going and how he was going to get there. That’s not something that you come by very often in a player, especially one of Darius’ caliber, and coaches recognize this. The fact that Calipari gets asked this question so much shows just how important others view role players like Darius Miller on Kentucky’s team.
Many think that Derek Willis will be able to take over a similar role when he arrives, there was even a KSR post a while back explaining why that may be the case. While it’s true that he is a Kentucky boy and most likely won’t be a one-and-done, for a player to pick up Darius’ role you have to look beyond the surface. While both are factors that the fan base enjoys, Miller being a Kentucky boy doesn’t affect the team, and while having a player that isn’t a one-and-done is nice, it’s not exactly essential for Calipari to win a championship. Experience is a nice thing to have, but if Kentucky has proven anything it is that talent is more essential when going after the title. What these coaches are really questioning is how Calipari is going to find another player who is as unselfish as Miller, with just as much talent.
While Miller is virtually impossible to replace, it’s important that Kentucky have a guy on the roster to take over his role. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a player who is going to stay all four years, but it does have to be a guy that is willing to make a sacrifice for the greater good. A guy who is patient and realizes that his time will come, a guy who recognizes that although he may not be leading the team in points, assists or blocks, his role is just as, if not more important. It’s a guy that’s going to be hard to find. But when the next Darius comes along the sacrifices he makes will be made up to him tenfold. Maybe he’ll even have a teammate texting the Hornets GM to pick them as the #1 overall draft pick.