Jazz peg Elijah Millsap — Paul's little brother — for 2nd-round pick

Published: Sunday, June 20 2010 1:01 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Elijah Millsap fully appreciates the many backyard basketball battles he's had with his three brothers, including Jazz backup power forward Paul Millsap.

"Sometimes we'd be going at each other so hard we'd start fighting," he said.

The experience prepared him to scrap his way through and make the case for himself as a bona fide pro prospect — one whose name could be called during Thursday's NBA Draft.

"We have him as a probable second-round pick," said Jazz player personnel vice president Walt Perrin, who watched Elijah and nine others work out Saturday in Utah.

Perrin has no doubt the 6-foot-6 shooting guard will make it to the league, and not just because he's a Millsap.

"I think because of his name people will look at him and say, 'OK, does he play very similar to Paul, but at a smaller size?' " Perrin said. "But he's got to get in on his own, and I think he will."

So does Elijah, who played two seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, then skipped one due to NCAA transfer rules. He then averaged 16.1 points (despite having few plays run for him, according to Perrin) over 34 games last season at Alabama-Birmingham.

Yet he's taking nothing for granted.

Elijah understands he has a long way to go before getting where his brother is.

"Am I going to fill his shoes? I'm just going to try to do the best that I can do," he said. "Paul has done some tremendous things. Enough said."

As ESPN.com's 70th-best prospect, the 22-year-old also knows there's no guarantee he'll even go in the 60-pick draft.

"I'm just trying to stay humble," Elijah said, "and just trying to soak it all in."

He says that deep into "the longest two months of my life."

Saturday's pre-draft workout was his eighth.

He's been to Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Charlotte and parts in-between. He may still head to Indiana and/or Milwaukee for additional auditions.

Everywhere he goes, Paul's name inevitably — and understandably — pops up.

The Louisiana Tech product who led the nation in rebounding for three straight seasons wasn't taken until the 2006 draft's second round, No. 47 overall.

Yet he signed a four-year, $32 million contract last offseason, and is in position to step in as Utah's starting power forward should Carlos Boozer leave via free agency.

"Every single time they're always telling me what a mistake they made," Elijah said, "and that they hope they don't make it again."

Ditto for Elijah, who can't make it through Salt Lake's airport without being made as a Millsap.

As much as he'd "love" to play with Paul in Utah, though, he's not being picky. "Me, I'm in a situation where I have to take whatever's given me. So if Utah drafts me, I'll be really happy to play here."

If not, he'll try to stick by showing he can do much of what his brother does: hustle, score and — make no mistake — rebound.

Elijah also averaged 9.5 boards per game last season at UAB, making him one of college basketball's top perimeter rebounders.

The nose for the ball was honed in those games when Elijah and Paul joined older brother John (who played last season in Mexico) and younger brother Abraham (an ex-Brighton High player) in realizing that sometimes the best way to get a touch was to grab it for one's self.

Credit for that survival sense goes largely to mother Bettye, who moved her boys to rural Louisiana to escape the traps of inner-city Denver, and uncle DeAngelo Simmons, who doubles as Paul's and Elijah's agent.

"Mrs. Millsap must be doing something with that group," Perrin said, "because they all rebound the ball."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS