MILLER: Wildcat goal? National championship

Losing five players to the NBA from last year's 35-win team, as Kentucky did this season, could dampen expectations and goals. Not so, according to Miller, and it's full speed ahead with those goals heading to the ultimate prize.

Like most of us, Darius Miller had mixed feelings as he saw his teammates, one by one, be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. John Wall, the number one pick in the draft was soon followed by DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton as Kentucky sent a record five players in the first round.

"It was actually pretty exciting," Miller said about his teammates being selected. "They got to chase their dream. I was proud and happy for them. They are like brothers to me. I still keep in touch with them. I talked to most of them yesterday. It was tough seeing them go, but at the same time they got to do what they did."

Although Kentucky recruited the number one class in the country for the second consecutive year, just having an infusion of talented freshmen won't be enough to replace that type of talent loss. Miller sees one key to the season being the returning players, including himself. "I have to be more aggressive and step into a role," Miller explained. "We lost five guys to the NBA. All of the returning guys have to step up and better their games; our roles are going to be different."

One of those returning players mentioned is sophomore Jon Hood. Hood played sparingly on last year's talent-laden team, but was highly regarded as an outside shooter and scorer from high school. There have been flashes in the early preseason of some aggressiveness in his game that fans did not see last year. Miller explains the difference.

"Jon is more comfortable," he said. "Last year was his first year, and the first year can be a tough transition. We had a lot of talent last year, and he will come out this year and be more aggressive and be ready to go."

Earlier Miller explained that this year's team was very talented, but in different ways than last year's team. One of those ways may be perimeter shooting, including both Miller and Hood. "We have the ability to shoot the ball. We have pretty good shooters on our team; hopefully outside shooting will be one of our strong points this year," he said.

Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Josh Harrellson, and others may play key roles in Kentucky's fortunes this year as well, as all Cat fans hold their breath and hope for good news from the NCAA on Enes Kanter, perhaps the jewel of this year's recruiting class. Even with the uncertainty of his status, though, Miller reminds us that expectations don't change at Kentucky.

"Our goal every year is to win the national championship. That's our main focus and our main goal. Other than that we want to win everything."

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