Looking back at the top 10 NBA draft picks from Utah schools

The University of Utah’s All-American center Jakob Poeltl was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Toronto Raptors in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

While it is quite an honor to be a top 10 pick in the NBA draft it isn’t an uncommon thing for players who played their college ball in the beehive state. In fact, 14 players from Utah schools have been top 10 selections since the draft started in 1947.

Here is a look at each of those players and how they performed after hearing their names called so early on draft-day.

Mike Sojourner, Utah 

Sojourner was the 10th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1974 draft. He spent his three-year career with the Hawks, with his best season coming as a rookie. That year, he averaged 11.7 points on 48.8 percent shooting from the floor. He added 8.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 29.2 minutes a night.

For his career, he played 191 games and averaged 8.7 points on 48 percent shooting to go along with 6.5 rebounds in 22.4 minutes.

Jimmer Fredette, BYU

After winning ever major college player of the year award, Fredette was the 10th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2011 draft. He has played five seasons in the NBA for four different teams trying to find playing time. His most productive season came with the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14 when he played 41 games and averaged 5.9 points on 47.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 49.3 percent shooting from 3-point land. He added 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes.

To this point in his career, he has played 235 games and is averaging 6.0 points on 38.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc to go along with 1.4 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 13.4 minutes.

Rafael Araujo, BYU

After a dominating senior year with the Cougars that saw him take home MWC Player of the Year, he was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft. He lasted just three seasons in the NBA playing for the Raptors and the Utah Jazz before finishing his basketball career overseas. His best season came in Toronto as a rookie when he averaged 3.3 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the floor with 3.1 rebounds in 59 games.

For his career, he played 139 games and averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes.

Andre Miller, Utah

Following an All-American senior season on the hill, Miller was the eighth pick in the 1999 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has played 17 seasons with for nine different teams and has become one of the top assist men in NBA history. His best season came in Cleveland in 2001-02 when he led the NBA with 10.9 assists per game while averaging 16.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals.

To this point in his career, he has played 1,304 games and is averaging 12.5 points on 46.1 percent shooting to go along with 6.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 30.9 minutes. His 8,514 assists are the most by an active player and the ninth most in league history.

Tom Chambers, Utah

After four impressive seasons for the Utes, Chambers was the eighth overall pick by the San Diego Clippers in the 1981 draft. He played 16 seasons for six teams and was the best scorer of any of the players from Utah schools. He was at his best with the Phoenix Suns where he was a three-time all-star and an All-NBA Second-Team selection in back-to-back years.

For his career, he played 1,107 games and averaged 18.1 points on 46.8 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 30.6 minutes. His 20,049 points are 40th most in NBA history.

Jerry Chambers, Utah

Following a record-setting NCAA Tournament run that saw him win the 1966 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Chambers was selected with the seventh pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1966 draft. He played for six teams over six years in the NBA and ABA, but missed two full seasons because of Military service, according to Basketball-reference.com. His best year came with the San Diego Conquistadors when he played 43 games and averaged 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 20.6 minutes.

For his career, he played 320 games and averaged 8.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 16.1 minutes.

Damian Lillard, Weber State

After shining in Ogden for the Wildcats for three years, Lillard was taken with the sixth pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2012 draft. Le has been a star during each of his four seasons in Portland, coming away with rookie of the year honors, two all-star game appearance and earning ALL-NBA honors in each of his last two seasons. His best year came in 2015-16 when he led the revamped roster to the second round of the playoffs. Along the way, he was named All-NBA Second-Team after he averaged a career-high 25.1 points on 41.9 percent shooting from the floor. He added 6.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 75 games.

So far in his career, he has played 321 games and is averaging 21.4 points to go along with 6.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 36.5 minutes.

Vern Gardner, Utah

Gardner played in the early days of the NBA after he was drafted with the fifth pick in the first round by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1949 BAA. He played just three seasons with the Warriors, but did make some solid contributions. His best season came as a rookie in 1949-50 when he averaged 13.5 point and 1.9 assists in 63 games.

For his career, he played 15 games and averaged 8.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Danny Vranes, Utah

After earning First-Team All-WAC for three consecutive seasons, Vranes was the fifth overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1981 draft. While he lasted just seven seasons in the NBA before finishing his career overseas, he did have some good years. ONe of his best came in Seattle in 1983-84 when he averaged 8.4 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the floor. He added 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 80 games. A year later, he showed off his defensive chops when he was Second-Team All-Defense.

For his career, he played in 510 games and averaged 5.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20.8 minutes.

Keith Van Horn, Utah

After causing his WAC foes nightmares for four long years, Van Horn was taken by the by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second pick in the 1997 draft. He spent nine seasons in the league playing with five teams before calling it quits following the 2005-06 season. One of his best years came with the New Jersey Nets in 1998-99 when he averaged a career-high 21.8 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the floor and 85.9 percent from the foul line. He added 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals in 37.5 minutes a night.

For his career, he played 575 games and averaged 16 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 31.6 minutes.

Shawn Bradley, BYU

After forgoing his final three years of eligibility following his LDS mission, Bradley was the second pick in the 1993 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. although he never quite lived up to the billing of a No. 2 pick, he did put together a 12 year career with three teams. His best statistical season came in 1996-97 when he played 73 games and averaged 13.2 points on 44.9 percent shooting from the floor. He added 8.4 rebounds and a league-leading 3.4 blocks in 31.1 minutes.

For his career, he played 832 games and averaged 8.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 23.5 minutes. His 2119 blocks are the 14th most in NBA history with his 7.8 block percentage is the highest in league history, according to Basketball-reference.com.

Mel Hutchins, BYU

After he helped the Cougars to the 1951 NIT Championship, Hutchins was the second overall pick by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in the 1951 draft. Although his career only lasted seven seasons, he made a huge impact on the league. He was a four-time all-star who twice finished in the top 10 in MVP voting, including a fourth place finish in 1955-56. One pf his best statistical seasons came in 1952-53 when he averaged a double-double with 11.7 points and 11.2 rebounds to go along with 3.2 assists in 71 games.

For his career, he averaged 11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 437 contests.

Billy McGill, Utah

Following a senior season that saw him lead the NCAA in scoring, McGill was the No. 1 overall pick by the Chicago Zephers in the 1962 draft. He played for eight different teams over his five years in the NBA and the ABA before he was done. He was at his best during his season with the New York Knicks where he averaged 16 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 68 games.

For his career, he averaged 10.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting with 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 295 games.

Andrew Bogut, Utah

After he walked away from Utah as a sophomore with the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player, Bogut landed with the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft. He has played 11 seasons for the Bucks and the Golden State Warriors where he is a key defensive piece on a team that went to back-to-back NBA Finals. His most productive season came in Milwaukee in 2009-10 when he was All-NBA Third-Team after he averaged 15.9 points on 52 percent shooting from the floor. He added 10.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.8 assists in 69 games.

So far in his career, he has played 644 games and is averaging 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 29.4 minutes.


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