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U.'s Miller awaits hoop fate

Andre Miller has spent much of the past month traveling to various NBA cities. From Charlotte to Toronto to Seattle, the former Utah point guard has been showing off his talents to coaches, general managers and scouts.

Later this evening Miller will finally find out who he impressed the most and where he may be spending the next several years of his life.Miller has been projected by most experts to go between the No. 5 and No. 12 picks in the draft. Both picks are held by Toronto, which needs a point guard and has shown a lot of interest in Miller. But even Miller's biggest fan, his college coach Rick Majerus, believes his prize point guard may be slipping a bit.

Ever since the end of Miller's senior season, Majerus has maintained that Miller would be drafted no lower than 12th and as perhaps as high as fourth. However earlier this week, he revised those projections a bit.

"I've talked to a number of NBA general managers and coaches this week and I can't get a handle on Andre," said Majerus. "I have Andre going from a high of five to a low of 15."

But then Majerus named the first six players he thought would be drafted and didn't include Miller. The six players he believes will be drafted first are Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Lamar Odom, Wally Sczerbiak and Jonathan Bender, not necessarily in that order.

That puts Miller between No. 7 and 15. But then Majerus also said, "I don't think Andre falls to 15."

OK, so let's figure Miller will go between No. 7 and No. 12.

That means he has a chance to be drafted by Washington (7), Cleveland (8 and 11), Phoenix (9), Atlanta (which received Golden State's No. 10 pick in a trade Tuesday) or Toronto.

Of those teams, Atlanta, which also lost longtime point guard Mookie Blaylock in the trade to Golden State, and Toronto seem to be in need of a point guard the most.

Cleveland, which already has a point guard who isn't a great shooter in Brevin Knight, doesn't seem a likely destination for Miller, whose biggest rap is his mediocre outside shooting. Neither is Phoenix, which already has a physical, good rebounding point guard in the same mold as Miller in all-star Jason Kidd.

Minnesota (No. 6) and Seattle (No. 13), have two of the best point guards in the NBA in Terrell Brandon and Gary Payton, respectively, but Brandon is a free agent and may leave the Timberwolves.

Of course draft day trades could send Miller anywhere, including Orlando, which desperately wants to find a point guard and could move up with a trade. Orlando, of course, is the team that took Miller's old teammate, Michael Doleac, with the No. 12 pick in last year's draft.

Miller is one of five prominent point guards that are expected to be lottery draft picks (top 13). The others are Maryland's Francis, UCLA's Davis, Duke's William Avery and Arizona's Jason Terry.

"This is the year of the point guard," said NBA scouting director Marty Blake. "It's been a long time since we've had five point guards who could go this high."

Miller started his pre-draft odyssey in late May when he worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers. Miller wouldn't mind playing in his old hometown, but the Clips are apparently enamored by another hometown product, Davis, who says he'd really like to play for the Clippers.

The 6-2, 205-pound Miller went to the pre-draft camp in Chicago June 13 and worked out for Cleveland two days later, then Toronto, Golden State, Seattle and finally Charlotte last week.

A lot of local fans were hoping Miller would end up at Golden State, where he'd be close to Utah and play against the Jazz more often, but that possibility went out the window with Tuesday's trade with Atlanta.

Majerus acknowledges he is prejudiced, but he thinks Miller is the best point guard in the draft.

"He is the classic point guard because he thinks pass first and involves everyone in the offense," he said. "He has great dribble penetration, he can pass in transistion, he can feed the post, he's a great defensive player and the consummate competitor."

Majerus compares Miller favorably with Indiana's Mark Jackson.

Of 10 services predicting the draft order, six have projected Miller to go in the No. 5 spot to Toronto. Total Action has him going to Cleveland in the No. 8 spot, two sites put Miller in the No. 10 spot, while MSNBC has Miller going at No. 13 to Seattle.

The one knock on Miller has always been his outside shooting and even Majerus said, "he's never going to be a great shooter." But many experts believe shooting can be learned and that Miller has enough other qualities that will make him a solid NBA player for many years to come.

Miller will likely be the first player from the old Western Athletic Conference taken in the draft. Other WAC players projected to be selected in the first round are UNLV's Shawn Marion, New Mexico's Kenny Thomas and TCU's Lee Nailon.

Marion's stock has apparently been rising in recent days and he could be a top 15 pick, while Thomas and Nailon are pegged as late first-rounders.

Tulsa's Michael Ruffin and Fresno State's Chris Herren are expected to be taken early in the second round and Rice's Robert Johnson could be chosen late in the second round.