Miller already experienced at sacrificing for team

By: Kyle Bass, Hornets.com

Often in sports, athletes have trouble making the transition from the collegiate level to the pros. Some players are accustomed to being hailed as a superstar, and are unable to adjust when they discover they must play a role on a team rather than being the center of attention. For New Orleans Hornets rookie Darius Miller, his collegiate experience may make his transition smoother than others.

The University of Kentucky product had to accept a role on a talent-laden team earlier than most NBA players. Miller was a starter during his sophomore and junior seasons, earning SEC Tournament MVP honors in 2011. However, his senior season presented him with a new challenge.

While Miller may be the only player in history to win a Kentucky high school state championship, be named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball and win an NCAA championship at Kentucky, he spent his senior campaign as the sixth man on a team that included five other NBA draftees. Miller didn’t complain, instead becoming the SEC Sixth Man of the Year while providing invaluable contributions for the national champs.

That experience may prove to be Miller’s greatest asset entering the NBA. At Kentucky, the forward played with 14 different Wildcats who made NBA rosters. The Maysville, Ky., native knows being around that type of talent can only help him.

“I think the biggest thing that I learned at UK was being able to play with a lot of professional-level players while I was there,” he said. “I still stay in contact with all of those guys. I still contact them and they still tell me about all the little things that go on in the league, teaching me things on and off the court that can help me in the NBA.”

Now, Miller is looking to find his role on a young Hornets team attempting to build itself into a championship contender. The 22-year-old sounds like a veteran trying to find a way to help the team win rather than make his own statement in the league.

“Right now my focus is on trying to go as hard as I can and trying to pick up the whole culture that is being built around this team and this franchise,” he said. “I’m just trying to get to know this team and the coaching staff and figure out what they expect from me.”