Andre Miller will remain
in school for his
May 8, 1998
SALT LAKE CITY -- Andre Miller, the sensational point guard for the University of Utah basketball team, has decided to forego the upcoming NBA draft and remain in school for his senior season. Miller, who came to Utah as a partial qualifier, earned a fourth year of eligibility due to an NCAA rule that went into effect in August 1997. The ruling allows a partial qualifier to be granted a fourth year of competition if the student-athlete has received a degree by the start of the academic year. Miller, a sociology/criminology major, will receive his degree this June.
"Andre Miller has submitted a letter to the NBA stating that he plans to remain in school and does not want to be considered for the NBA draft," confirmed Ute Head Coach Rick Majerus. "He has decided to avail himself of an NCAA rule that will allow him another year of eligibility. Andre could be the spokesperson on the NCAA's behalf for the value of this rule. He wants to continue to explore his options in an educational setting."
Said Miller of his decision, "I looked at the whole situation and decided that the best thing for me was to stay at Utah another year. I won't have the pressure of getting a degree hanging over my head, because I'll already have one. I'll maybe start a whole new major outside of sociology and expand my horizons. As far as basketball goes, there are still some things I need to work on. I need to improve my outside shot, continue to work on my free throws and work to be more aggressive on the offensive end. I know I can get better."
While Majerus agrees that Miller will benefit from another year on his team, he says his star would have gone in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft. "There is no question that Andre would be a first round draft choice--certainly all research points to the fact that each and every NBA team had a great interest in him. But he realizes that another year in college will serve him in better stead as a person and a player. Andre will be better off from this decision at this time next year," said Majerus.
The 6-foot-2 Miller was named Most Valuable Player of the NCAA West Regional Tournament after leading Utah to its first Final Four appearance since 1966. At the West Regional, he recorded what is believed to be the first "triple double" in school history against defending NCAA champion Arizona--erupting for 18 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in a 76-51 Ute win. Named first-team all- Western Athletic Conference and to the all-WAC defensive team, Miller averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He was named the WAC Mountain Division's Top Defender by the media. Miller set Utah's single-season steal record with 73 and also became the school's career record holder with 240 swipes. He had 177 assists in 1997-98 and has 700 in his career--second all-time at Utah and just 37 shy of first.
Miller was nearly unstoppable at the NCAA Tournament, directing Utah to the championship game where the Utes lost to Kentucky 78- 69. In the Final Four semi-final game, he led Utah past No. 1 ranked North Carolina 65-59. Miller barely missed another "triple double" against the Tar Heels, collecting 16 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. In the championship game against Kentucky, he led Utah in scoring (16) and assists (5). During Utah's run through the NCAA tourney, Miller set career highs in points (28 vs. Arkansas), rebounds (14 vs. Arizona) and assists (13 vs. Arizona).
"From a personal standpoint, this is the best news my team and myself could have received," said Majerus. "We couldn't have recruited anyone who would be one-one hundredth of what Andre means to us. In my opinion, Andre Miller is the best returning point guard in America. There is no better competitor or as gifted a player anywhere. He is an extraordinary passer and an unselfish player. His return as our captain gives us every indication that we will contend for a fifth WAC title."
Miller is also excited about returning to Utah next season. "I'm looking forward to playing with the guys coming back and to teaching all the new guys coming in that we're hard workers and we're determined to win another WAC championship and, hopefully, do well in the NCAA Tournament again."
Miller is the second Ute player in the last three years to decide to stay at Utah for his final season. Keith Van Horn turned down the chance to leave for the pros after his junior year in 1996 and went on to become the No. 2 draft pick last year.