There is nothing that most BYU and Utah fans like more than to brag about who has produced better players and who has had the most success in the professional ranks. It’s not just Utes and Cougars who love this argument either. Utah State and Weber State fans love to join the conversation too, when they have players to brag about. With the success that Damian Lillard has had in his first two seasons in the NBA, Wildcats have been front and center in these debates, and feeling good about where they stand.
Of Utah’s six major schools, the Utes have had the most NBA and ABA players with 27, followed by BYU (21), Utah State (nine), Weber State (nine) and Utah Valley (one) while Southern Utah hasn’t had any according to basketball-reference.com.
Here is the list that shows who has the ultimate bragging rights when it comes to the best NBA players ever produced out of Utah’s division one schools.
H.M. John Fairchild, BYU: Fairchild was taken with the eighth pick of the second round (16th overall) by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1965 draft. Fairchild played 165 games over four seasons with the Lakers, Anaheim Amigos, Denver Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Kentucky Colonels. His best season came as a member of the Amigos in 1967-68 when Fairchild averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and one assist in 62 games.
For his career, Fairchild averaged 6.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists a game.
H.M. Steve Kramer, BYU: Kramer made the ABA after going undrafted. He played 124 games over three seasons for the Anaheim Amigos, Houston Mavericks and the Carolina Cougars. His most impressive statistical season came with the Mavericks in 1968-69, when Kramer averaged 14 points, 4.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds over 23 contests.
For his career, Kramer averaged 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
H.M. Willard Sojourner, Weber State: Sojourner was taken with the third pick of the second round (20th overall) by the Chicago Bulls in the 1971 NBA draft. He played for seasons in the ABA for the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets. His most productive season came with the Squires in ’72-73 when he averaged 7.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 64 games.
For his career, Sojourner averaged six points and 4.8 rebounds in 309 games.
H.M. Greg Kite, BYU: Kite was taken with the 21st overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1983 draft. He played 680 games over 11 seasons for the Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. The best statistical season of his career came in 1990-91 when Kite started all 82 games and averaged 4.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and a block a game.
For his career, Kite averaged 2.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.
H.M. Jeff Judkins, Utah: 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.
H.M. Arnie Ferrin, Utah: 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.
H.M. Shaler Halimon, Utah State: Halimon was taken with the 14th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1968 draft. Halimon played five seasons in the NBA and ABA for the 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers, Atlanta Hawks and the Dallas Chaparrals. His most productive season came in ’70-71 when he averaged 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 81 games with Portland and Chicago.
For his career, Halimon averaged 6.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 254 games.
H.M. Jeffrey Congdon, BYU: Congdon was selected with the second pick of the fourth round (32nd overall) by the Detroit Pistons in the 1966 draft. Congdon never played for the Pistons but did play 306 games over five seasons in the ABA for the Denver Rockets, Anaheim Amigos, Utah Stars, New York Nets and Dallas Chaparrals. His best season came in 1969-70 when as a member of the Rockets, Congdon averaged 9.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
For his career, Congdon averaged 6.5 points, two rebounds and 3.3 assists.
H.M. Brady Walker, BYU: Walker was selected by the Providence Steam Rollers in the 1948 BAA draft. He played 228 games over four seasons with the Steam Rollers, Boston Celtics and the Baltimore Bullets. His best scoring season came In 1948-49 as a member of the Steam Rollers when Walker averaged 8.3 points a night in 59 contests.
For his career, Walker averaged seven points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
25. Ariel Maughan, Utah State: Maughan made the Detroit Falcons of the BAA in the 1946-47 season. He played five seasons in the BAA and NBA for the Falcons, Providence Steam Rollers, St. Louis Bombers and the Washington Capitols. His best statistical season came with the Bombers in ’48-49 when he averaged 10.8 points and 1.8 assists in 55 contests.
For his career, Maughan averaged 7.9 points, four rebounds and 1.2 assists in 259 games.
24. Vern Gardner, Utah: Gardner was selected with the fifth overall pick 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.
23. Dewitt Menyard, Utah: 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.
22. Larry Bunce, Utah State: Bunce was taken with the 12th pick of the fourth round (43rd overall) by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1967 NBA draft. Bunce never played for the Sonics, but did spend two seasons in the ABA with the Anaheim Amigos, Denver Rockets, Dallas Chapparals and the Houston Mavericks. His best season came as a rookie when Bunce played in the 1968 ABA All-Star game after averaging 12.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 71 games.
For his career, Bunce averaged 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 129 contests.
21. Mike Sojourner, Utah: 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.
20. Michael Doleac, Utah: 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.
19. Danny Vranes, Utah: Vranes was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1981 draft. He played 510 games over seven seasons with the SuperSonics 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.
18. Craig Raymond, BYU: Raymond was taken with the 12th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1967 draft. He played 241 games over five seasons for the 76ers, Pittsburgh Pipers, Los Angeles Stars, Memphis Pros, The Floridians, San Diego Conquistadors and Indiana Pacers. His best season came in 1969-70 in his 46 games with the Stars when Raymond averaged 15.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
For his career, Raymond averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
17. Fred Roberts, BYU: Roberts was selected with the fourth pick in the second round (27th overall) by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1982 draft. Roberts played in 818 games over 13 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. His best season came in 1990-91 as a member of the Bucks when Roberts started 82 games and averaged a career-high 10.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 53.3 percent from the field.
For his career, Roberts averaged 7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game.
16. Jerry Chambers, Utah: 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.
15. Marv Roberts, Utah State: Roberts was taken with the 10th pick of the third round (45th overall) by the Detroit Pistons in the 1971 NBA draft. Roberts played for six seasons in the ABA and NBA for the Denver Rockets, Carolina Cougars, Kentucky Colonels, Virginia Squires and the Los Angeles Lakers. His best season came with the Rockets in ’72-73 when he averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 77 contests.
For his career, Roberts averaged 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 402 games.
14. Luther “Ticky ” Burden, Utah: 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.
13. Billy McGill, Utah: 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 Stars, 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.
12. Mervin Jackson, Utah: 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, Jackson averaged 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
11. Shawn Bradley, BYU: Bradley was the second overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1993 draft. Bradley played in 832 games over 12 seasons with the 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks. His best statistical season came in 1996-97 when he split time between the Nets and Mavericks when Bradley averaged 13.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and a league-leading 3.4 blocks a game.
For his career, Bradley averaged 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 Blocks.
10. Nate Williams, Utah State: Williams played eight seasons in the NBA for the Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City-Omaha Kings, New Orleans Jazz and the Golden State Warriors. His most productive season came with the Kings in ’73-74 when Williams averaged a career-high 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 82 games.
For his career, Williams averaged 12 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 642 games.
9. Jim Eakins, BYU: Eakins was selected with the seventh pick in the fifth round (57th overall) by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1968 draft. Eakins played in 767 games over 10 seasons for the Oakland Oaks, Washington Capitols, Virginia Squires, Utah Stars, New York Nets, Kansas City Kings, San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks. His best seasons came as a member of the Virginia Squires. In 1972-73, Eakins averaged 15 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 blocks. A year later Eakins made his only all-star game while putting up 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
For his career, Eakins averaged 10.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one block a game.
8. Damian Lillard, Weber State: Lillard was taken with the sixth overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2012 draft. Even though he has only played two seasons in the NBA to this point, he has done enough to vault up this list. In his first year with the Blazers, Lillard won the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 19 points, 3.1 rebounds and six assists while starting all 82 games. Lillard made his first all-star game a year later with averages of 20.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
To this point in his career, Lillard is averaging 19.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and six assists while starting all 164 games he has appeared in.
7. Andrew Bogut, Utah: 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 years in the NBA, Bogut has averaged a double-double in three seasons.
For his career, Bogut has averaged 11.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks in 507 games.
6. Mike Newlin, Utah: 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.
5. Keith Van Horn, Utah: 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.
4. Danny Ainge, BYU: Ainge was selected with the eighth pick of the second round (31st overall) by the Boston Celtics in the 1981 draft. He appeared in 1,042 games over 14 seasons for the Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. Ainge made the all-star game with the Celtics during the ’87-88 season in which he averaged 15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals. His best statistical season came in ’89-90 with the Kings when Ainge averaged 17.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, six assists and 1.5 steals a contest.
For his career, Ainge averaged 11.5 points, 2.7 rebounds , four assists and 1.1 steals a game.
3. Andre Miller, Utah: 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 13.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 1,184 games. He is currently ranked ninth all-time in NBA history in assists with 8,153.
2. Mel Hutchins, BYU: Hutchins was selected in the first round (second overall) by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in the 1951 draft. He played in 437 games over seven seasons for the Milwaukee Hawks, Fort Wayne Pistons and the New York Knicks. Hutchins was a dominant rebounder who finished in the top ten in rebounding for three straight seasons. He was also a solid passer for a big man as well as a decent scorer. Hutchins played in four all-star games in a five-year span. He finished fourth in MVP voting in 1955-56 and eighth in ’56-57.
For his career, Hutchins averaged 11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and three assists a game.
1. Tom Chambers, Utah: Chambers was selected with the eighth overall pick by the San Diego Clippers in the 1981 draft. Chambers played 1,107 games over 16 seasons for the Clippers, Seattle SuperSonics, 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.