Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

Ranking the best NBA players to come out of the University of Utah (27 items)

By , For the Deseret News

March 18, 2014

The University of Utah has had an upper-echelon basketball program since the early days of college basketball. Led by outstanding coaches like Vadal Peterson, Jack Gardner and Rick Majerus, the Runnin' Utes have produced 10 first- or second-team All-Americans. The first was Dick Romney in 1916 and the latest was Andrew Bogut in 2005. Utah has had four teams advance to the Final Four, and the school won a national championship in 1944 (pictured at left). In total, 40 Ute players have been drafted in the NBA or ABA, with 27 of them playing in one or both of those leagues. Here is a ranking of every player to ever play in the ABA or NBA out of the University of Utah. Note: All statistics are from All photos are from Deseret News archives unless otherwise noted.

1 of 27. 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.

2 of 27. 26. Greg Deane

Deane was selected with the first pick in the fourth round (67th overall) by the Utah Jazz in the 1979 draft. Deane played 48 minutes in seven games for the Jazz that season and registered 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.

3 of 27. 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.

4 of 27. 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 play 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.

5 of 27. 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.

1. StGtoSLC
March 18, 2014

Cool segment, Jay. I'd have arranged the top 10 a little differently:
1-Tom Chambers
3-Van Horn
9-Jerry Chambers

I'd value a 6 ppg NBA player higher than a 15 ppg ABA player. Anyway, proud to share an alma mater with these men. Good luck to Dre and Bogues the rest of the season and into the playoffs!

2. StGtoSLC
March 18, 2014

Also, would've been cool to see what the 25 guys no longer playing in the NBA are doing now. I think I heard Britton Johnsen recently retired from playing in South America, anyone know if Möttölä is still playing in Europe?

3. BigBear38297
Clinton, UT,
March 19, 2014


I'm not sure if its 100% accurate but Wikipedia says that Britton Johnson retired from a Spanish club in 2011 and Hanno Mottola is still playing for a team in Finland.

It would be neat to see what alot of these players are doing now. I read that Billy McGill was actually living on the street for awhile. Its too bad that a player that brought so many good memories to the U is having a rough time. I hope things are better for him now.

Great list though. I really enjoyed seeing all these great players that represented the University of Utah.

Go Utes!

4. Canyontreker
March 19, 2014

Not to mention, Tom Chambers perfection NBA slam dunk...the reverse ally oop!