6-8 Louisville-signee Chad Millard, in town to participate in the adidas Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, says he's willing to work as hard as he has to earn his share of those minutes next season.
"Louisville's losing some guys and there's going to be some opportunities to play, and that's all you can ask for as a freshman is an opportunity," said Millard. "I just want to come in, work as hard as I can, and try to play if that's in the cards. I just want to do whatever I can do to play and make everyone better, and win games."
Millard also hopes he plays better than he did in first appearance in Louisville when he scored just one point in a loss to fellow Louisville signee Jonathan Huffman and Birmingham's Central Park Christian.
"I didn't get the ball that night and that's how it goes in prep school some nights," Millard explained. "But I was trying to make everybody around me better, and get the win. We ended up losing but that's how it goes sometimes."
Though he didn't score much that night at Louisville Gardens, Millard did manage to dish out a half a dozen assists.
"I'd have to say my passing ability is my strength because I create mismatches, and can see people off the dribble," said Millard.
So what does Millard think he needs to improve most if he hopes to make an impact at U of L next season?
"I'd probably say my strength," he said. "I've put on 20-pounds since I've been at prep school. I weigh 220 right now, and I'd like to be about 230 by the time I get to Louisville."
Millard says he keeps in close contact with Rick Pitino and his staff despite cell phone limitations at Brewster Academy. During those conversations, Millard said he keeps Pitino abreast of his progress, and his future coach isn't shy about offering advice for improvement.
"They know I'm a hard worker, and I think that's why they offered me a scholarship," Millard said. "They know I'm not going to be a problem, and they just tell me to keep working hard, keep getting stronger, and keep shooting the ball how I shoot it."
Excited about Louisville's run to the Final Four earlier this month, Millard believes there's no reason why next years team can't make it to Indianapolis and a second straight Final Four appearance.
"Now all eyes are on Louisville," Millard said. "We've got a great recruiting class coming in, a bunch of guys that like to work hard, and we're just going to try to get back to the Final Four next year."
Millard will participate in the dunk contest, and might take part in the three-point shooting contest. "We'll just have to see how that goes," he said.
And even though his focus will be on playing well this weekend, Millard sounds like a guy playing with a much greater purpose, especially now that Garcia and Wade have opened the door for immediate playing time next season.
"They both played my position," Millard said of the Cardinals two departing small forwards. "Francisco's more of a 2-3, but I'm a ‘3' and there's a great opportunity for me to play. So I figure that I'm a real hard worker – I've haven't been given anything, and I haven't asked for anything – I'm just going to work as hard as I can to get whatever minutes come to me."
He'll also get a head start on the competition this summer.
"I'm coming down June 5 for the first session of summer school, and I'm going to be here for the second session also," Millard said. "I think that's going to give me a good advantage coming into the season."