Darius Miller swears he won’t cry.
Not because he might not want to. Because he refuses to.
“I don’t think I can just let it out even if I want to,” Miller said. “If I want to or feel I’m about to, I’m just going to suck it up.”
Miller said this, dry-eyed, standing in front of a podium in the practice gym he’s inhabited for the past four years.
The first year was the worst. UK ended up in the NIT under Billy Gillispie, who Miller said he hasn’t talked to since that season.
“My freshman year was kind of rough, as you all know,” Miller said.
By his second season, his practice gym experience had changed drastically. In came head coach John Calipari. At the time, Miller was worried about whether he would have a place on a Calipari-coached team.
Unknown to him, though, Calipari thought he was the best player in the gym. He liked Miller’s skill set, unpolished as it was, and saw his potential to fit into his system.
So Miller stuck around, and — although he didn’t play a major role — was in the Elite Eight a year after being relegated to a second-tier postseason tournament.
“From my freshman year to my sophomore year were opposites,” Miller said. “I’m happy we changed it so fast.”
Since then, Miller and UK have stayed on that high. He hasn’t lost in Rupp Arena since that first year. He was the Cats’ key player down the stretch last season, culminating in being named the MVP of the SEC Tournament and helping UK to a Final Four berth.
And now, Miller’s a vital player on a team projected to go even further than that.
The lone four-year senior on UK’s roster operates as the “glue guy” on the team, a stabilizing influence as the guy who’s experienced double what anyone else has. He’s played in 141 games at UK, 74 more than the player with the second-most appearances in a UK uniform (Doron Lamb).
During his time, 38 other players have appeared on official team rosters with him. Nine former teammates are now in the NBA, and a few more from this year’s team are likely to follow.
That makes him the designated old man on the team.
He may be older than his young teammates, but he’s still a college kid.
“I’m not in any way part of Team No Sleep,” Miller said, referencing his teammates’ informal group. “I actually love sleep and I would like to do it all the time.”
Miller’s now closing in on the end of his career. He’s accumulated 1,139 points, 458 rebounds, 258 assists, 104 steals and 95 blocks — which is just a touch shy of his dad’s goals.
“My father’s always wanted me to score 100, get 100 rebounds, have 100 assists,” Miller said. “He’s always had high expectations. Whose dad doesn’t?”
Maybe Miller didn’t average a triple-triple.
He’s still had a career anyone could be proud of.