Even with a new starting lineup, fans should view Kentucky as equipped to contend for a national championship in 2012-13, Darius Miller said Thursday.
"I feel it's that way every year at Kentucky," he said when asked if UK could contend nationally. "... It's nothing new."
Miller and two of his teammates from UK's 2012 national championship team, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb, met with reporters in Memorial Coliseum during a break from working the John Calipari Basketball ProCamp.
Only one regular contributor from the championship team, Kyle Wiltjer, returns. He'll be joined by UK's latest highly regarded freshman class. Miller vouched for the freshmen — who include Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin — helping the Wildcats remain national contenders.
"They'll be able to step in and fill the shoes," Miller said.
The former players noted how Ryan Harrow, who sat out last season as a transfer from North Carolina State, will give Kentucky solid point guard play.
'Same little kid'
Since the 2012 Final Four, six UK players prepared for the transition to the pro game, were selected in the NBA Draft and have played for their respective team's entry in a summer league. One, Anthony Davis, is playing for the U.S. team in the Olympics.
"I still feel the same, believe it or not," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I'm the same little kid."Lamb noted the travel involved.
Kidd-Gilchrist will be playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, who are led by former NBA superstar Michael Jordan.
"I'm going to learn a lot from him," Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Kidd-Gilchrist welcomed the idea of playing one-on-one against Jordan. "Yeah," he said. "Soon, hopefully."
Miller smiled knowingly when asked about having to fight for a spot on the New Orleans Hornets. The team took him in the second round of the draft.
"I've been fighting for a spot for a while now," he said. "... Nothing new."
After Thursday's morning session, campers formed long lines to get autographs from Miller, Kidd-Gilcrist and Lamb. Later, Marquis Teague and Terrence Jones are expected to work the camp.
The experience led Lamb and Kidd-Gilchrist to recall attending such camps as children and admiring the counselors. For Lamb, that meant playing in a camp linked to the New York Knicks.
Of the young people looking up with adoring eyes, Kidd-Gilchrist said, "I was the same way. I just love having fun. I'm a role model, now."
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com