An alphabetical look at 10 of many of the top NBA players who have roots or connections with the state of Utah. Leave comments for suggestions about other greats with Utah connections. Mike Whitmer is an avid sports fan who loves playing all sports with his grandkids. You can contact him at email@example.com or visit his blog at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com
The All-American and Wooden award winner in 1981, Ainge was drafted by the Boston Celtics, after a short baseball career, and was part of two NBA Championships (1984, 1986). He averaged 11.5 points per game and four assists throughout his career. He also played for Portland (1990-1992) and Phoenix (1992-1996), helping each make one NBA Finals appearance. He was selected to play in one All-Star Game (1987-88) and was the second NBA player to hit 900 3-point shots in a career.
As a sophomore at Utah, Bogut was voted a consensus NCAA All-American in 2005. He was the first pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks (where he has played his whole career). Bogut averaged 9.0 ppg and seven rebounds in his rookie season. Despite severe injuries that limited his play in 2010, Bogut was selected as a Third Team All-NBA player becoming the first Australian to receive such an honor. The 7-foot center helped make Utah history when he and Alex Smith were the first players from the same school chosen first in the NBA (Bogut) and NFL (Smith) draft in the same year.
After playing one year with BYU and serving an LDS Mission to Australia, Bradley, who prepped at Emery High School, was drafted by Philadelphia with the second pick of the 1993 draft. During his time with the Sixers (1993-1995) he was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team and was second in the NBA in blocks for two years. Traded to New Jersey (1995-1997) and eventually to Dallas (1997-2005). He averaged 8.1 ppg, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for his career. He appeared in 43 playoff games all with Dallas.
Chambers, a four-year starter at the U., was drafted by and played for San Diego (1981-83). In his career he also played for Seattle (1984-87), Phoenix (1988-93), Utah (1993-95), Charlotte (1996-97) and Philadelphia (1997-98). He was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game four times, participated in one NBA Final (Phoenix 1993) and was All-Star MVP in the 1986-87 game. Averaged 18.1 ppg for his career and had a single game-high of 60 in 1990 against Seattle.
Drafted in the ABA draft of 1968, Eakins played for both of the major basketball leagues. The 6-foot-11 center helped lead the Oakland Oaks (1969) and New York Nets (1976) to the ABA Championship before the ABA-NBA merger. After the 1976 championship, Eakins, Julius Erving and the Nets defeated the Boston Celtics, led by John Havlicek, in Basketbowl IX. Also selected to the ABA All-Star Team in 1974, he played for Oakland (1968-69), Washington (1969-70), Virginia (1970-74), Utah (1974-76), and New York (1975-76) in the ABA and Kansas City (1976-77), San Antonio (1977-78), and Milwaukee (1977-78) in the NBA. He was instrumental in establishing the basketball program at Salt Lake Community College.
After a stellar career with BYU (2nd Team All-American, 1951), Hutchins was drafted second overall by the Milwaukee Blackhawks. In eight NBA seasons, Hutchins was named to the NBA All-Star team four times (1953-1954, 1956-1957). Averaging 11.1ppg and 9.6 rebounds, Hutchins played for Milwaukee (1951-1953), Fort Wayne (1953-1957), and the New York Knicks (1957-1958) before retiring in 1958. He is also the brother of Colleen Hutchins, Miss America 1952, and the uncle of former NBA player executive Kiki Vandeweghe.
Miller, a 1999 consensus All-American, was drafted Cleveland in the first round. He finished his first season being named a First-Team NBA Rookie (2000) while averaging 11.1 ppg and 5.8 assists. He also played one year with the Los Angeles Clippers (2002-2003) before joining Denver for the next three (2003-2006). When Denver traded for Allen Iverson, Miller was part of the package sent to Philadelphia (2006-2009). Currently playing for the Portland Blazers (2009-present). He enjoys a career average 14.5 ppg and 7.1 assists.
Newlin had an 11-year NBA career, averaging almost 15 ppg after playing on the hill from 1967-1971. He was considered the original Houston Rocket, being the first player signed after the Rockets moved from San Diego to Houston. He scored a career-high 52 points against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. His stops in the NBA included Houston (1971-1979), New Jersey (1979-1981) and New York (1981-1982) and included three playoff appearances with the Rockets (1974, 1976, 1978).
Became the first player from Utah Valley to play in the NBA. He has overcome many obstacles for reach the pinnacle of the basketball world. Only 6-2, he has an unusual leaping ability (ask Luke Walton of the Lakers) and speed to get the best of his defenders. Originally signed by Sacramento (2005-07) Price joined the Utah Jazz as a free agent in 2007 and has been a solid backup for the team through the 2011 season.
He was a three-time WAC Player of the Year for the Utes. He was the second overall pick by Philadelphia in 1997 and was immediately traded to New Jersey. Van Horn was the leading scorer for New Jersey his rookie year and averaged 19 ppg and 8.5 rebounds from 1997-2002. He led New Jersey to the NBA Finals in 2002 where they were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers. He later played for Philadelphia (2002-03), Toronto (2004), Milwaukee (2004) and finally Dallas (2004-2006) where he finished his NBA career averaging 16 ppg and 6.8 rebounds.