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Cheryl, Reggie, Ralph … ranking Sean Miller among Pac-12′s best Millers

Sean Miller

Sean Miller still has a long way to go to be the best coaching Miller in the Pac-10/12 era. Photo by Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA is retiring the basketball jersey of Reggie Miller tonight as the Bruins take on USC at Pauley Pavilion.

That got me thinking about a list I put together in late spring 2009, not long after the Arizona Wildcats hired basketball coach Sean Miller.

Pondering how common the last name of “Miller” is, and clearly having too much time on my hands, I researched the 10 best Millers of the Pac-10 era. Every school, every sport.

It’s a formidable list, with my top three choices all being members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, so Sean Miller has quite a lot of work to do.

But in just 3 1/2 seasons of work, Sean has carved out a spot somewhere in the top 10, so it’s time for an update.

Here are the top 10 Millers since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978:

1. Cheryl Miller, USC, women’s basketball. A four-time All-American and three-time winner of the Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top player. She was women’s basketball. No other Miller carried his or her sport like she did.

2. Reggie Miller, UCLA, men’s basketball. Cheryl’s little brother still holds the record for the best single-season scoring average in Pac-12 play: 27.8 in 1985-86. Imagine what Miller could have done if he had played with a 3-point line that season.

3. Ralph Miller, Oregon State, men’s basketball coach. The Hall of Famer went 359-186 in 19 seasons with the Beavers, winning four Pac-10 titles in a five-year stretch that began with the 1979-80 season. Miller, with enduring stars such as A.C. Green and Gary Payton, led Oregon State to the most conference victories in the Pac-10 in the 1980s. He went 204-106 in league games … putting him 164 ahead of Sean Miller.

4. Lennox Miller, USC, track. Anchored the Trojans’ late 1960s 4×100-meter relay teams that included O.J. Simpson. He won a silver medal in the 100 meters for Jamaica in the 1968 Olympics, and followed with a bronze in 1972. His daughter, Inger Miller, could be a separate entry, but we’ll make this a combo item. She was the Pac-10′s 1994 women’s track athlete of the year and won Olympic gold in 1996 on the U.S. 4×100 relay team.

5. Jamir Miller, UCLA, football. A consensus All-American in 1993 and one of the most physically gifted linebackers in the league during that decade. Your three top Pac-10 linebackers from the 1990s (in no particular order): Willie McGinest (USC), Chris Claiborne (USC) and Miller.

6. Chris Miller, Oregon, football. Two-time all-conference quarterback in 1985 and 1986. When he finished his career, he ranked seventh in Pac-10 career passing with 6,681 yards.

7. Sean Miller, Arizona, men’s basketball coach. He led the Wildcats to a Pac-10 regular-season championship in his second season, when Arizona came within a shot of the Final Four. He enters Thursday night’s game at Washington with a 41-20 record in conference games.

8. Zach Miller, Arizona State, football. A consensus All-American in 2006 who finished his three-year college career with 144 catches for 1,512 yards and 14 touchdowns.

9. Josh Miller, Arizona, football. The all-league punter in 1992 and as valuable a weapon that season as any defender in Arizona’s vaunted Desert Swarm. He went to play in Canada and then 12 years in the NFL.

10. Jody Miller, Arizona, softball. The catcher was part of the foundation of UA’s rise to power, helping the Wildcats win the College World Series in 1991 and 1993. She earned first-team All-America honors in 1992 and was a second-teamer in 1993.

(Washington shortstop Kevin Miller, the league’s North Division player of the year in 1996 and 1997 got bumped off the list in place of Sean Miller.)

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