Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
John Millsap likes to think he "paved the way" for his three younger brothers in basketball, and John says he's still in charge of the boys, even though now he's trying to follow in brother Paul's Utah Jazz footsteps.
"I'm still the older brother, and I've got years on my belt," said John this week at Zion's Bank Basketball Center, where the Jazz practice.
John, 24, has joined 22-year-old Paul on the Jazz's Rocky Mountain Revue roster, hoping the reputation of Paul's strong Jazz rookie year, his own 2006-07 CBA All-Star status and experience playing in Serbia, and that familiar Millsap work ethic will help him in attracting some NBA attention.
The Jazz Revue team opens play tonight at 7 at Salt Lake Community College against Atlanta.
Paul Millsap, who made the NBA All-Rookie second team last season, presumes the Jazz invited John to the Revue because they scouted some of John's CBA games with the now-defunct Utah Eagles and the Butte (Mont.) Daredevils, for whom he played following a dispersal draft, and liked what they saw.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Wednesday that Paul has already bettered himself from last year.
"I tell you what. He's stepped out here, and he's in great shape, better shape than he was a year ago," Sloan said. "We ran 17s (a drill) here in practice yesterday, and he was able to beat some of the smaller guys because he's in better shape, and he's got toughness."
The two brothers spent part of the summer with a personal trainer in Reno, even taking boxing lessons, "things like that to help my condition," says Paul. "It helped a lot."
The two occasionally sparred, but it remained friendly.
There was a day when the elder Millsap was the family's top dog at everything basketball related.
"I just say I paved the way," John says. "Growing up, I beat (Paul) at everything. When he was younger? Yeah, I schooled him most of the time. Right now, he's kind of schooling me on this level. He just started to take control. Just now."
When Paul was a sophomore and John a senior at Grambling (La.) High, Paul surpassed John's size.
"Paul was pretty good then," John says. "We was pretty much even at that point."
John went on to lead Texas-San Antonio in scoring (13.7) and rebounding (6.9) as a senior but was undrafted by the NBA and played a season in Serbia before joining the CBA Eagles after moving to Utah with Paul, mother Bettye and brother Abe, while brother Elijah played in Louisiana.
John acknowledges that Paul, a three-time NCAA rebounding champion who ranked second among NBA rookie rebounders with 5.2 a game in an average of 18 minutes played, is the better boardman nowadays. Paul is two inches taller at 6-foot-8 and much heavier, 258 pounds to 205.
"I'm not saying I'm as good as he is, but, yeah, I can rebound also. I shoot better than him," says John, who considers himself more a perimeter player while Paul is a power forward who can play the three.
The Millsaps are competitive with each other and a little vain about their personal strengths when it comes to family bragging rights. About rebounding, Paul says he's the star.
"Of course," says Paul, the No. 47 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft who averaged 6.8 points a game. "I don't doubt that. But (John) can score the ball. He can score, and I'm still working on that aspect of my game. I can rebound, block shots. He's trying to work on his defense a lot. If he gets better on defense, he's got the whole package. I'm just trying to work on everything else."
The Millsaps josh each other, but they're also close, raised by their single-parent mom, Bettye. John's strongest memory of growing up in Louisiana and Denver is, "Basically, just getting out of our situation. That was our focus, and basketball was a way out."
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