Ranking the best NBA players to ever come out of the University of Utah

The University of Utah has had an upper echelon basketball program since the early days of college basketball.  They have had great coaches like Vadal Peterson, Jack Gardner and Rick Majerus.  The Utes have had ten First or Second-Team All-Americans. The first of which came all the way back in 1916 when Dick Romney earned the honor up until 2005 when Andrew Bogut was a First-Team All-American and National Player of the Year.  They have had four teams make the trip to the Final Four and even a National Championship.  With all the success the Utes have had on the collegiate hardwood, only 40 players have been drafted with 27 of them playing in the NBA or ABA.

This list ranks every player to every play in the ABA or NBA out of the University of Utah.

Note: all statistics are from Basketball-Reference.com

27.  Gary Bergen: Bergen was selected by the New York Knicks in the 1956 draft.  He played 40 minutes over six games and scored eight points while grabbing eight rebounds for the Knicks in the 1956-57 season.

26.  Greg Deane: Deane was selected with the first pick in the fourth round (67th overall) by the Utah Jazz in the 1079 draft.  Deane played 48 minutes seven games for the Jazz that season and registered 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.

25.  Wat Misaka: Misaka was selected by the New York Knicks in the 1947 BAA draft.  He appeared in three games for the Knicks in the 1947-48 season and scored seven points.

24.  Kenneth Gardner: Gardner was selected with the 14th pick in the fifth round (82nd overall) by the Phoenix Suns in the 1971 draft.  Gardner never played a regular season game for the Suns, but did appear in nine games for the Utah Stars of the ABA in the 1975-76 season.  Gardner played 51 minutes that season and registered 14 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.

23.  Deb Smith: Smith made the St. Louis Bombers of the BAA and played 48 games in the 1946-47 season.  In that time, Smith averaged 1.5 points a game while handing out a total of six assists.

22.  Fred Sheffield: Sheffield made the Philadelphia Warriors of the BAA and appeared in 22 games in the 1946-47 season.  During that stretch, Sheffield averaged 3.4 points a game.

21.  Britton Johnsen: Johnsen played 26 games (five starts) over two seasons for the Orlando Magic and the Indiana Pacers after going undrafted.  His most productive season came with the Magic in 2003-04 when Johnsen appeared in 20 games and averaged 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds.

20.  Josh Grant: Grant was selected with the 16th pick of the second round (43rd overall) by the Denver Nuggets in the 1993 draft and was promptly traded to the Golden State Warriors.  Grant played 53 games with the Warriors in 1993-94 and averaged three points and 1.7 rebounds a contest.

19.  Pace Mannion: Mannion was selected with the 19th pick of the second round (43rd overall) by the Golden State Warriors in the 1983 draft.  He played 216 games (four starts) over six seasons for the Warriors, Utah Jazz, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks.  His most productive season came as a member of the Jazz in 1985-86 when Mannion appeared in 57 games and averaged 4.5 points 1.4 rebounds and one assist.  For his career, Mannion averaged 3.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists a game.

18.  Hanno Mottola: Mottola was selected with the 11th pick in the second round (40th overall) by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2000 draft.  Mottola appeared in 155 games (17 starts) over two seasons with the Hawks,  He best statistical season came in 2001-02 when Mottola played in all 82 games and averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds.  For his career, Mottola averaged 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.

17.  Kelvin Upshaw: Upshaw played 120 games over three seasons with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors after going undrafted.  Upshaw had his best stint in the NBA with the Celtics in the 1988-89 season.  He appeared in 23 games for Boston that season and averaged seven points, 1.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists.  For his career, Upshaw averaged 5.4 points, 1.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

16.  Jeff Judkins: Judkins was selected with the eighth pick in the second round (30th overall) by the Boston Celtics in the 1978 draft.  Judkins appeared in 272 games over five seasons with the Celtics, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers.  His most productive season came as a rookie with the Celtics in 1978-79 when Judkins averaged 8.8 points a game on 50.3 percent shooting to go along with 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists ans one steal.  For his career, Judkins averaged 5.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and one assist a contest.

15.  Arnie Ferrin: Ferrin was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1948 BAA draft.  Ferrin appeared in 178 games over three seasons and was a part of two championship teams. His best statistical season came in 1948-49 when Ferrin averaged 7.3 points and 1.6 assists over 47 games.  For his career, Ferrin averaged 5.8 points, four rebounds and 1.6 assists.

14.  Vern Gardner: Gardner was selected with the fifth pick in the first round by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1949 draft.  Gardner played 151 games over three seasons with the Warriors.  His best season came as a rookie in the 1949-50 season when Gardner averaged 13.5 points and 1.9 assists a night in 63 games.  For his career, Gardner averaged 8.9 points, four rebounds and 1.6 assists a game.

13.  Dewitt Menyard: Menyard played 71 games in the 1967-68 season for the Houston Mavericks of the ABA.  That season, Menyard averaged 9.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game.  Those numbers were good enough for Menyard to appear in the 1968 ABA All-Star game.

12.  Mike Sojourner: Sojourner was selected with the 10th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1974 draft.  He played 191 games over three seasons with the Hawks.  His best season came as a rookie when Sojourner averaged 11.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists.  For his career, Sojourner averaged 8.7 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.

11.  Michael Doleac: Doleac was selected with the 12th pick in the first round by the Orlando Magic in the 1998 draft.  Doleac appeared in 587 games over ten seasons for the Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves. His best season came in 1999-00 when as a member of the Magic, Doleac appeared in 81 games (29 starts) and averaged seven points and 4.1 rebounds.  For his career, Doleac averaged 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds a game and won an NBA Championship as a member of the 2005-06 Miami Heat.

10.  Danny Vranes: Vranes was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Seattle Super Sonics in the 1981 draft.  He played 510 games over seven seasons with the Super Sonics and the Philadelphia 76ers.  His best statistical season came in 1983-84 with Seattle when Vranes played 80 games (72 starts) and averaged a career-high 8.4 points a game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists.  For his career, Vranes averaged 5.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists a night.

9.  Jerry Chambers: Chambers was selected with the seventh overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1966 draft.  Chambers played for six seasons in the NBA and ABA for the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Buffalo Braves, San Diego Conquistadors and San Antonio Spurs.  His most productive season statistically came in 1972-73 as a member of the Conquistadors when Chambers averaged a career-high  11.9 points as well as 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists a game.  For his career, Chambers averaged 8.3 points and 3.2 rebounds a night.

8.  Luther “Ticky ” Burden: Burden was selected with the eighth pick of the second round (26th overall) by the New York Knicks in the 1975 draft.  Even though Burden was drafted by the Knicks he started his pro career with the Virginia Squires of the ABA.  Burden played just one season with the Squires and had by far the best year of his career.  In 1975-76, Burden averaged 19.9 points a game to lead the Squires in scoring while also averaging 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals a game.  Burden moved on to the Knicks a year later, but could never replicate his minutes or production from his season in the ABA.  In two seasons with the Knicks, Burden averaged 5.5 points, one rebound and one assist a night.  For his career, Burden averaged 13.1 points, two rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals a game.

7.  Billy McGill: McGill was the first overall pick by the Chicago Zephyrs in the 1962 NBA draft.  McGill played five seasons in the NBA and ABA for the Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, St. Louis Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Rockets, Los Angeles Star, Pittsburgh Pipers and Dallas Chaparrals.  The best statistical stretch of his career came when he played for the Knicks in 1963-64.  In 68 games McGill averaged 16 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists.  For his career, McGill averaged 10.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

6.  Mervin Jackson: Jackson was selected with the 14th pick of the ninth round (120th overall) by the Phoenix Suns in the 1968 draft.  Jackson never played for the Suns, but did play five seasons in the ABA with the Los Angeles Stars, Utah Stars and Memphis Tams.  In 1968-69, Jackson made the ABA All-Star game while averaging 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game.  Two seasons later, Jackson was a key component of an ABA Championship team when he averaged 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 18 playoff games for the Utah Stars.  For his career, 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

5.  Andrew Bogut: Bogut was the first overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2005 draft.  Bogut has played nine seasons with the Bucks and Golden State Warriors.  His most productive season came in 2009-10 with the Bucks when Bogut earned Third-Team All-NBA honors after averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.5 blocked shots a game.  a year later, Bogut led the league with 2.6 blocks a night.  In his nine seasons, Bogut has averaged a double-double three seasons.  For his career, Bogut has averaged 11.7 rebounds, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks a contest.

4.  Mike Newlin: Newlin was selected with the seventh pick of the second round (24th overall) by the Houston Rockets in the 1971 draft.  Newlin played 837 games for the Rockets, New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks.  Newlin had plenty of impressive seasons over his 11-year career with his two best coming in 1975-76 and 1980-81.  In  ’75-76 while Newlin was playing for the Rockets he averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds. 5.6 assists and 1.3 steals a night.  In ’80-81 as a member of the Nets, Newlin averaged a career-high 21.4 points a game to go along with 2.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals.  For his career, Newlin averaged 14.9 points, three rebounds, four assists and a steal a game.

3.  Keith Van Horn: Van Horn was selected with the second overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1997 draft and traded to the New Jersey Nets two days later.  Van Horn played 575 games over nine seasons with the Nets, 76ers, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks.  His best statistical season came with the Nets in 1998-99 when Van Horn averaged 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, one steal and 1.3 blocks in 42 games.  For his career, Van Horn averaged 16 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists a contest.

2.  Andre Miller: Miller was selected with the eighth overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1999 draft.  Miller has played for 15 seasons with the Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards.  He best statistical season came in 2001-02 as a member of the Cavaliers when Miller averaged 16.5 points, 4.7 rebounds,  a league-leading 10.9 assists and 1.6 steals a game. In his 15-year NBA career, Miller has averaged 13.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists ans 1.3 steals a game.  Miller is currently ranked ninth all-time in assists with more than 8,000.

1.  Tom Chambers: Chambers was selected with the eighth overall pick by the San Diego Clippers in the 1981 draft.  Chambers played 1107 games over 16 seasons for the Clippers, Seattle Super Sonics, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers.  Chambers was a dominant offensive player who had his best statistical season with the Phoenix Suns in 1988-89 and ’89-90.  In ’88-89, Chambers averaged 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals a night in his second All-Star season.  A season later, Chambers averaged a career-high 27.2 points to go along with seven rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals a contest.  In each season, Chambers earned Second-Team All-NBA honors.  For his career, the four-time All-Star averaged 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game.

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