Michael Doleac turned 21 last week. So what did the former University of Utah star do to celebrate that milestone?
He jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, where he worked out for Kings' officials before having dinner with them later. It was one of several trips the 6-11 center has taken the past few weeks for NBA teams considering taking him in the first round of Wednesday's draft.Doleac has been projected to go anywhere from No. 7 to No. 15 by most draft prognosticators. He is probably the No. 2 center in the draft behind Mike Olowokandi of Pacific, who is likely to be among the first three picks. Utah Jazz director of player personnel Scott Layden calls Doleac "a top-10 draft pick."
Just last week, Doleac was invited by the NBA to be one of a select few players to come to the draft in Vancouver, where he can dress up in a suit and then stride to the podium when his name is called.
"I've heard a lot of different things," says Doleac, who has visited seven NBA cities in the past two weeks. "I know Orlando is real interested. But I really don't know. I just give it my best effort."
Orlando is a likely destination, considering the Magic have three picks in the top 15, at 12, 13 and 15, and are in need of a center. Another possibility is No. 9 at Milwaukee, which is looking for a center and whose owner has close ties to Utah coach Rick Majerus.
Sacramento (No. 7) and Golden State (No. 5) both had Doleac in for a look last week, as did Houston (Nos. 14, 16 and 18). The week before, on consecutive days, Doleac visited Milwaukee, Orlando, Boston (No. 10) and Philadelphia (No. 8). A Toronto (No. 4) representative came to look at him in late May.
Consensus is that the top seven picks, in no particular order, will be Arizona's Mike Bibby, Olowokandi, Kansas' Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce, North Carolina's Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter and Larry Hughes of St. Louis. After that anything can happen.
"He's best when he's surrounded by better players," said Majerus. "He'd be good on a team like the Jazz."
Doleac says he would love to stay in Utah and play for the Jazz.
"That would be pretty sweet - I'd be pretty happy," he said.
That was a good possibility until two weeks ago, when the Jazz decided to forgo using Orlando's No. 13 pick and opt to use it next year. He'll definitely be gone before the Jazz's pick at No. 29.
Most experts see Doleac as a Bill Laimbeer-type center, who faces the basket most of the time and can spread defenses with three-point shooting. Doleac is also a career 79 percent free-throw shooter.
"Different systems would work better for me," said Doleac. "A running and pressing team probably wouldn't be that good for me."
That would presumably rule out Boston at No. 10.
Majerus loves the upside to Doleac but also knows his limitations. He can foresee Doleac being a 10-year NBA player, but not one with the potential to be an all-star like ex-Ute Keith Van Horn.
"He can't stand and score," Majerus said. "He won't score a lot in pro ball. But he's a smart and willing defender. A lot depends on who he plays with and who coaches him."
Majerus said that unlike some players who are listed at 6-10 in college and turn out to be 6-8, Doleac is every bit the 6-11, 260 pounds he's listed at. Doleac said when he was measured at the workouts in Chicago in early June that's exactly what his measurement was.
"It seems like I've been measured a hundred million times," he said.
Doleac's path from high school bench-warmer to first-round draft choice has been remarkable.
After moving from Alaska to Portland, Ore., just before his freshman year of high school, Doleac started to take basketball more seriously. Before that he had participated in a variety of sports, including soccer, baseball, skiing, hunting and fishing.
He sat the bench as a high school sophomore and played very little on the varsity as a junior. But a friend of Majerus put him on to Doleac and the Utah coach invited him to his summer camp. Before the weeklong camp was over, Majerus got a commitment from Doleac to sign with Utah
Doleac admits he was flab-ber-gas-ted by the offer, since he had hardly played a minute of high school basketball. "I had no idea. I had never even thought about playing in college," he said.
Suddenly Doleac turned into a genuine basketball player and won all-league and all-state honors after averaging 17 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in leading Central Catholic to the Oregon state championship.
Majerus figured to redshirt Doleac as a freshman since he was barely 17 years old (he skipped the sixth grade), but he did so well in the preseason, he decided to play him as a backup center. In his first game against Indiana in the Maui Classic, Doleac sank his first shot, a 15-footer, and went on to score 13 points. For the year he averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Doleac was a starter his last three seasons and ended up as the 10th leading scorer in Utah history and seventh leading rebounder. The Utes were 114-21 during Doleac's four years.
Earlier this month, Doleac was seen sitting with super-agent David Falk at a Jazz finals game against Chicago. Yes, Falk, the same man who represents Michael Jordan, is his agent.
How did Doleac happen to land an agent such as Falk?
"I had no idea how to pick an agent. But coach Majerus and Jon Huntsman knew him and helped me choose him."
Doleac was known as a good student when he was at the U. with a 3.4 GPA as a pre-med major. He wants to be a physician someday but has at least a semester of work left that he wants to finish up the next two summers.
However, Doleac may not be a doctor for quite a long time if he turns out to be as good as NBA scouts are projecting him to be.