Former UK, NBA player visits WinCity Sports Cards

Published 6:00 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

When WinCity Sports Cards opened to customers in 2023, owner Matt Abner said that – among other events – he hoped to bring in professional athletes for autograph signings.

Last weekend, such an opportunity came true.

Darius Miller, a former member of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder and a member of the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball 2011-12 NCAA championship team, was welcomed to the business on Shoppers Village Drive, where he signed autographs from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16.

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“We want to have something we offer the community that we haven’t had in a long time,” said Abner. “Darius is one [person] we wanted to get first. He’s got so many Kentucky accomplishments. I’m excited about him being here.”

Miller, named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2008 – the same year he led Mason County High School in Maysville to a state-championship victory – went to the University of Kentucky, where he played four years of basketball.

During his senior year, as a member of a team coached by John Calipari that featured additional athletes such as Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Miller helped lead the Wildcats to a 2012 NCAA championship following a win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

Afterward, he would play several seasons in the NBA, with a two-year stint in Europe from 2015 to 2017.

In both seasons, Brose Bamberg – the team Miller played for – won the German Championship.

Yet despite his travels, Miller feels welcomed in Kentucky.

“[It’s] amazing just being close to friends and family again. We felt isolated a lot of times,” Miller said. “It’s always fun to just get back and…see these people.”

One person in particular Miller referred to was Mike Shrout, an employee of WinCity.

Shrout, whose late wife, Marcia, served as director of the Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge, contacted Miller and helped coordinate the signing.

Shrout’s connection to the family runs deep, as he went to college with Miller’s father, Brian.

“I’ve known Darius since he was born, basically. We’re proud of all his accomplishments”, Stroud said. “Think about how many people have played from the state of Kentucky. He’s the only [individual] to ever win a Kentucky state championship, be Mr. [Basketball], and win a national championship for the University of Kentucky.”

As Miller signed autographs, some of which were brought in for him and others that individuals could pick up inside to have signed, he advised others seeking to shine at basketball.

“Just continue to work at it. [You’ve] got to have fun with it. [You’ve] got to enjoy it,” Miller said. “It’s very important for you to fall in love with the process of getting better through practice, through working, and enjoying the game.”