Who will make up the starting five for this Kentucky basketball team?
It made for a great summer topic on my radio show, because the discussion focused on where senior Darius Miller fit into the mix. Marquis Teague figured to start because he's the point guard and Anthony Davis seemed like safe bet because of his size. Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb seemingly had to be sure things because they might well be the top two scorers but who would be the fifth starter? Would it be Miller, the senior, or highly-touted freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?
Truth be told, the key question will be "who finishes the games" for Kentucky but whether you're talking about the starting five or the finishing five, it's hard for me to imagine Miller not being a part of it either way.
How does feel about the battle for minutes on such a talent-laden team?
"You should come here expecting that. It makes us better as a team," he said.
Do you ever envy players at other programs that don't have to compete as hard to get their minutes?
"I feel like they're rather be in my situation," Miller answered.
On a team built on the concept of versatility, Miller might be the most versatile of all. He's a 40-plus percent three-point shooter, has a great "floater" when he takes his man off the dribble and remember last year's Louisville game when he became a key factor in the UK offense as a postup player? Coach John Calipari's even mentioned Miller as a possible option at point guard if needed and Miller is fully capable of guarding anything from a point guard to an opposing center.
"We have a lot of versatile guys," said the senior from Maysville, KY. "We don't have any true, dominant post players. We haven't figured out how we're going to play yet."
One thing of which Miller is certain--Kentucky is much one of the "hunted" teams this season.
"I just feel like we're going to have a target on our backs. It should be fun. I think the guys have a personality where they're going to be ready for it," he observed. "We have a lot of competitive people on the team. And coach Cal is doing a great job of getting us ready for how it's going to be.
"This is a good group of guys," Miller added. "They didn't really come in with egos. They're good teammates and they listen to everybody."
Miller says he can remember his freshman year "like it was yesterday," adding that he's really enjoyed his time at UK. But how sweet would it be to get a national championship ring on the way out the door?
To make that happen, Miller will be counted on for not only his production on the court but also his leadership off of it. Sporting News college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy sat in on a discussion by Miller about that topic at last week's Media Day and DeCourcy came away impressed with what he heard.
"I thought Darius really sounded like a leader. Cal said different players will take the leadership role at different times and I don't buy that. He's a Kentucky kid and he's got great presense and he's become a terrific player. I have little doubt that he's ready to lead this team," DeCourcy noted. "You don't always have to be the best player to be that guy but you have to have composure and a stately manner about you and I think he'll have that.
I think he's ready to do it. I've always liked him but I was really impressed with him. I think this team needs that because Doron and Terrence are really soft-spoken kids. And you've got a group of freshmen that really needs leading," said DeCourcy. And he took particular note of a comment that indicated Miller's self-awareness when it came to leadership.
"He said 'we allowed them to find their way (last year) and that wasn't the best way. The veterans need to stand up here and do it right'," DeCourcy recalled, adding "I think that recognition is a big part of being a leader."
Miller said he's ready to be more vocal and more assertive.
"I'm a senior," he said. "I have to step up."