BOZICH: A day with Darius Miller
INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) -- This was life for Darius Miller during a frantic 24-hour period that began Wednesday evening:
Scramble off a plane from Washington, D.C. to check-in to a downtown Indianapolis hotel. Sleep as many hours as possible before shuttling to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Hustle through a two-hour workout for the Indiana Pacers, matched against Jeffery Taylor of Vanderbilt (again), Will Barton of Memphis and Jae Crowder of Marquette. Try to convince Pacers coach Frank Vogel and president Larry Bird that Miller would be a perfect addition to their improving team when they make the 26th selection in the first round of the NBA Draft June 28.
Shake hands with the legendary Bird after the workout and then grab a cellphone for a radio interview with Dan Dakich of the Indianapolis ESPN affiliate. Move to a corridor to chat with more reporters, handling questions about the national championship Miller helped the University of Kentucky win.
Shower. Change clothes. Grab luggage. Return to the airport. Bound for Miami, Miller said.
Sounds like a fantastic place to be, especially these days. Game Three of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Miami on Sunday.
Miller won't be there. He wasn't even certain he'd arrive at his South Florida hotel in time to watch Game Two of the Heat-Thunder series Thursday night. Miller said he has so many workouts and interviews scheduled between now and the draft that he has stopped checking his calendar.
He just asks his agent, Doug Neustadt, for the next destination.
"I've got so many more places to go," Miller said.
The Pacers were his fifth stop, following visits with the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards. Miami will be number six. There are 24 NBA teams and only 14 days until the draft. He said he'd love to play for Indiana because of its proximity to Kentucky.
Miller delivered a solid performance at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. He measured at 6 feet 7 ½ in sneakers, with 7.5 percent body fat on his 233.4 pounds. His 6-9 wingspan is also considered a plus, generating more workout invitations.
"It's crazy," Miller said.
But it is a delightful crazy. There were days, especially during the Billy Gillispie era during Miller's freshman season at Kentucky, when the world wondered if Miller was an NBA talent. His world improved during the three seasons Miller played for John Calipari because Miller had the ego for the job. It always seemed as if Miller was being pushed to the fringe of the picture.
Kentucky became a program where it was sexy to be the latest greatest freshman. Miller was happy to fill in the gaps and grind as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Now, as his pro career looms, that should help. Miller has shown he can deliver as a ball-handler, shooter or a guy who can take the ball directly to the rim. Give Miller a defensive assignment and he can handle it, defending point guards, power forwards and everything in between.
Still, you won't find Miller's name in the first-round in the assorted NBA mock drafts. Two NBA scouts concurred with that assessment, telling me he is more likely to be selected in the first 10 picks of the second round.
"He's versatile, he's tough, he can defend and he can make open shots," said former South Carolina coach Darrin Horn. "Why can't he be a first-round pick? I think he's not only going to make it, he's going to have a long career. (UK coach) John Calipari is as good as anybody at making guys understand that doing what it takes to win is what it's all about, and Darius learned those lessons well."
First round or second round, Miller does not worry or complain. When has Miller ever complained? That is an essential part of the Darius Miller package. He finished his UK career with 1,248 points, 34th on the Wildcats all-time scoring list.
"I feel like I've played with a lot of talented players and I've been a part of a lot of talented teams," Miller said. "I feel like I could come in and play different roles. I played different roles at Kentucky and was comfortable with them. Hopefully that could be an advantage to me."
It was time to go. Darius Miller had another plane to catch.
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