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August 2, 2012

Ex-Cats see success for UK successors

For four years, Darius Miller was part of a Kentucky basketball roster in the fledgling stages of becoming a team.

This year, Miller was on the outside looking in as he watched the newest group of UK players practice during the summer.

"I'm really impressed with them," Miller said Thursday. "I feel like they have a talented team. I look for a lot of them to do big things."

They'll get the chance to do just that, since UK lost its top six rotation players -- including Miller, Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who returned to UK on Thursday to host the John Calipari Basketball ProCamp.

Although they may no longer be Wildcats, they expect the new version of UK's team to turn out just fine.

"They have a great all-around team," Lamb said. "Kyle (Wiltjer) is a veteran now, so he's got to step up and be a leader. Especially Ryan (Harrow), he's had a whole year here. He's worked out with us, so he knows how it is. He knows the offense very well. He should be a big part of the team this year. And they got great freshmen coming in. Archie (Goodwin) and Alex (Poythress) and Willie (Cauley-Stein) and the big kid, Nerlens [Noel]."

Calipari has been able to coach the team for two hours per week during the summer for the first time after a new NCAA rule was adopted in 2011. The extra time might be paying off, especially for the freshmen, who are learning everything from scratch.

"They're all extremely talented," Miller said. "Archie, Alex, they're playing really well. It seemed like they were picking up the stuff really fast. I feel like they'll be ready to go."

All three former Wildcats had positive reviews of Harrow, who sat out last year due to transfer rules and is expected to play point guard as a sophomore this season.

"He's been jumping since he was in high school," Lamb said. "He's been in all those YouTube hoop mixtapes, dunking and everything. In college it's going to be a little harder to dunk on everybody, but he should have a good chance to dunk on some people this year."

Miller expects this team to be "really good" and said fans will enjoy watching them.

As for living up to expectations set by last year's national championship team, Miller said it probably won't feel any different for the new roster than any other season.

"I feel like it's that way every year at Kentucky," Miller said. "They want us to win the title every year. It's nothing different. They'll always have high expectations when you come here. They'll be able to step in and fill the shoes."


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