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NBA DRAFT : UCLA's Miller Surprised at Being Picked by Indiana

June 23, 1987|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

Reggie Miller of UCLA, chosen by the Indiana Pacers with the 11th pick in the first round of the National Basketball Assn. draft Monday, said he was happy, but also kind of surprised.

"It's an up-and-coming team, a young team," said Miller, who thought he helped improve his place in the draft with his showing in the Aloha tournament. "Golden State, the Clippers and Philadelphia were interested in me. Indiana was pretty late, like in the last week and a half."

Miller said that Pacer assistant coach Mel Daniels was the one who expressed Indiana's interest. Meanwhile, some Pacer fans may need convincing. Scattered boos were heard when Miller's name was announced to fans gatherered in Indianapolis Market Square Arena to listen to the Pacers' draft. There was strong sentiment among the fans for Indiana University All-American Steve Alford, who was later drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the third pick in the second round.

Miller said he feels no need to defend himself to Indiana fans for being chosen by the Pacers instead of Alford.

"They picked me ," Miller said. "All I have to do is go in and produce."

Four Pacific 10 Conference players were drafted in the first 16 picks. Point guard Kevin Johnson of California was chosen by Cleveland, which had the seventh selection in the first round. After Miller, Utah drafted Oregon State center Jose Ortiz, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, with the 15th pick, and the 76ers chose center Christian Welp of Washington with the 16th pick.

"It was a good order, as far as I'm concerned," said Miller, who during the season had insisted that he and not Ortiz was the best player in the Pac-10. "I've got to think it was a strong showing for the Pac-10 with four players in the first round."

Indiana Coach Jack Ramsay has said he will try Miller as a shooting guard, the spot currently occupied by 31-year-old veteran John Long. Next season is the last year on Long's contract. Long averaged 15.2 points, the second-highest on the team last season, but he shot only 41.9%.

If Miller was slightly surprised at being drafted by Indiana, Derrick Dowell of USC was caught totally off guard by his selection in the second round by the Bullets. Dowell was the 37th player drafted overall.

"I have to be satisfied right now, I guess, because I didn't go any sooner," Dowell said. "But I don't know anything about the Bullets. I still haven't even talked to them. All I know about them is that they have Moses Malone and Manute Bol.

"So I'm really surprised, you could say. I don't know what's going on. The reality of the whole situation won't happen until I make the final cut."

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