by Conrad Brunner
Indianapolis, September 23, 2002 -
Oliver Miller, an NBA veteran center who has battled weight problems throughout his career, will take a shot at returning to the league in the Pacers' training camp.
The 6-9, 325-pound Miller averaged career highs of 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds with Toronto - where current Pacers coach Isiah Thomas was then the head of basketball operations - in 1995-96 but then bounced around the league, playing with five teams from 1992-2000. In 445 games, he has career averages of 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Last season, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Gary Steelheads of the CBA, the Long Island Surf in the ABA and the Dodge City Legend in the USBL. He then capped off the summer of 2002 playing for the ABA Surf in the California Summer Pro League. His last full season in the NBA was 1999-00, when he averaged 6.3 points in 51 games with Phoenix. He subsequently played in Greece and Poland before his odyssey last season.
Three other players have been confirmed additions to the roster, with camp set to begin Oct. 1 on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati: forward Rodney Smith of Purdue, forward Rolan Roberts of Southern Illinois and guard Nate Green of Indiana State. That brings the camp roster to 17 players.
A 6-6, 231-pound forward, Smith averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 31 games, including 25 starts, at Purdue last season. His best season came as a junior, when he averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds and racked up 20 points and eight rebounds in an upset of then top-ranked Arizona. An Indianapolis resident, Smith led Pike High to the Class 4A state championship as a senior.
In three games (all starts) for the Pacers' entry in the Orlando Summer league, the 6-6, 250-pound Roberts averaged 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds. In the Pacers' only victory in their five games in Orlando, he had his best effort of the league with 11 points. At the At Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, he was named to the all-consolation bracket team after a dominant performance in which he averaged 19.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 70.3 percent from the field.
He played his final season at Southern Illinois after three years at Virginia Tech. In his only season with the Salukis, he was named First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference, MVC Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Green, a 6-5 guard, was cut in training camp by the Detroit Pistons last season, joining the North Charleston Lowgators of the NBDL. He ranked fourth in that league with a 4.1 assist average as the team finished tied atop the league at 36-20 and reached the NBDL Finals. He spent time this summer with the Miami Heat's entry in the Orlando Summer League and the Utah Jazz's team in the Rocky Mountain Review.
In four years at Indiana State, he averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 assists. He was the MVC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2000.