UK Men's Basketball

'He's going to be a superstar'

As bright futures go, Kentucky freshman Darius Miller represents a glorious sunrise. Vivid colors streak across pockets of clouds. The air is fresh with the fragrance of impending success.

UK Coach Billy Gillispie spoke of that future after the Cats dispatched Longwood on Monday night and how Miller can get there.

"Darius is going to be a fantastic player," Gillispie said before adding, "He needs to continue to be more assertive because he really knows how to play and he can really make plays."

One bit of assertiveness weighed heavily on Gillispie's mind. Go-get-'em rebounding led to Miller's first collegiate start. Then Gillispie watched in disbelief as Miller grabbed only one rebound in 13 minutes against Longwood.

"You get the spot because you rebound better than the guy playing in front of you (Ramon Harris)," Gillispie said. "So the guy in front of you is sitting the bench and he gets six rebounds (in the first half) and you get one.

"It blows my mind. That's the way young people are."

Miller is young, a freshman who led Mason County to the Kentucky state championship last spring. After the Longwood game, Miller confessed with a sheepish smile that he couldn't explain the lapse in rebounding.

"Coach wasn't too happy about my performance on the rebound end," he said. "I don't know what was going on."

The fact of a first start apparently threw Miller off. He said he didn't find out about the start until the day of the game.

"It kind of caught me off guard," he said. "It was a lot of fun. I was excited."

As with almost all freshmen, Miller is on a journey of self-discovery. In that process, Gillispie serves as Sherpa who guides this young man to an athletic Everest.

"A lot of times it takes awhile for you to learn," Gillispie said of freshman players. "And all of a sudden, it clicks and you're a superstar. He's going to be a superstar. No question about it. He's not going to be a star. He's going to be a superstar. But he has to continue to change his mind-set."

Reporters couldn't wait to get to Miller to ask him about being a superstar in training.

Miller acknowledged "a little" surprise at his coach's choice of word.

"Superstar," he said. "That's a strong word."

Teammate Patrick Patterson did not share Miller's surprise at Gillispie's superstar comment.

"He can do a lot of things out there," he said of the freshman. "He can play defense. He can rebound. He can post down low. He can shoot the ball from the outside and drive to the basket.

"As his confidence builds up and his game strengthens, he can be a superstar out there."

Miller sounded more intrigued by Gillispie's advice about changing a mind-set.

"Hopefully, Coach is seeing a lot of things in me," Miller said. "He's brought a lot of things out of me. Hopefully he's right."

When asked what things Gillispie had brought out of him, Miller said, "He's making me work a lot harder than I used to. I won't lie. I've gotten quicker. I've gotten stronger. My intensity is better.

"Like I said, he sees a lot of things in me that I haven't seen till now that he's pushed them out of me."