Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
One after another they stepped forward as their names were announced to thunderous applause from a near-capacity crowd Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.
They had already been feted at reception on the same floor the night before and a luncheon a couple of hours earlier.
Sixteen former University of Utah players were honored at halftime as members of the All-Century team, which had been voted on by fan balloting earlier in the season. Each received a Ute jersey with their number and "All Century" on the back and were also given a watch.
Twelve of the 16 players were on hand for the ceremony, including Arnie Ferrin ('48), Billy McGill ('62), Jerry Chambers ('66), Mike Newlin ('71), Jeff Jonas ('77), Tom Chambers ('81), Danny Vranes ('81), Josh Grant ('93), Keith Van Horn ('97), Mike Doleac ('98), Alex Jensen ('00) and Andrew Bogut ('05).
Two of the others on the list, Bill Kinner ('36) and Vern Gardner ('49) are deceased. Of the other two, Jeff Judkins ('78) was coaching the BYU women's team on the road while Andre Miller ('99) apparently couldn't make a flight connection but was represented by his mother.
Also more than 100 other former Ute players from as far back as the 1930s were paraded on the floor before the All-Century team was introduced.
Each of the All-Century players felt honored to be chosen to the elite team.
"As you get older, it gets more special," said Ferrin, who also served as U. athletic director in the 1980s. "It recognizes things that happened 64 years ago that you think people don't remember."
Newlin, who played in the NBA for 13 years, came in from Houston for the ceremony.
"From a historical perspective it's pretty remarkable when you think about all the guys who have played in 100 years," he said.
"It really does mean a lot when you see all the good players who didn't make it," said Jonas. "You feel very fortunate. You don't play to win awards, but it's nice to be recognized."
"It's something the more you think about, the more proud you become," said Grant, who flew in from Chicago. "Utah is really rich in tradition, and it's really an honor. They are some great names on the list."
"It's a great honor," said Van Horn. "It's great to see your old teammates and to see the older generation, guys like Arnie Ferrin that's the best part of it all."
Van Horn's name has been in the news lately in reports that he might be involved in the held-up trade involving the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
When asked about it, he said. "That's pretty funny. It's crazy. I didn't even know I had to file papers to retire. I'm not going to be playing any time soon."
Vranes is one of the players who still lives locally. "It means more when you've been out of the game for a long time. It really does. It's what we have to hang on to," he said.
"It's great," said Tom Chambers, a teammate of Vranes who also played for the Utah Jazz for a short time. "There's been a lot of really great players who have played here and gone on to have great NBA careers as well. It's just remarkable. I remember when I was here you heard names like Billy McGill and Jerry Chambers and Arnie Ferrin, and they're all here."
Jerry Chambers came in from Los Angeles for the event.
"It's a great honor, out of 100 years and being one of the 16 that ever played here, that's something you couldn't even think about it. It's overwhelming, really," he said.
One of the surprise guests was Jensen, who serves as an assistant to former Ute coach Rick Majerus at Saint Louis. He decided just Friday to fly in Saturday morning and fly out Saturday night in time for Sunday's game against UMass."I always felt I didn't want to leave the team, but then I came to my senses and realized this would be a hard thing to miss once in a lifetime thing," Jensen said. "It's an incredible honor. It's a top 10 program of all time and to be in the top 16 of that is a huge honor."
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