Ranking the best NBA players to ever come out of BYU

Published: Monday, March 10 2014 1:38 p.m. MDT

Associated Press
The BYU Cougars have had an impressive basketball program for a long time. They have had great teams, legendary coaches and great players. The Cougars have even had 10 players win Conference Player of the Year Awards, six First-Team All-Americans and seven Second-Team All-Americans, according to BYUCougars.com. Great success at the college level doesn't always translate to success at the pro level, however.

Although BYU has had 42 players drafted in either the ABA or the NBA, only 21 of them have ever played a regular season game.

This list is the ranking of those 21 players who have played in the NBA (or ABA) out of the Y.

Note: these rankings are based solely on what each player did while playing in the NBA, ABA or in one case, the BAA. What a player did in college was not taken into consideration.

All stats come from Basketball-Reference.com.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

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Gunnison, UT

If you take Shawn Bradley and Danny Ainge out of the mix, you average less than 4 points per game per person. Definitely not making a huge difference at all.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

So the only person from byu to make an impact in the NBA in the last 30 years is Bradley? Surprising that such a big time school like byu has only put out a single guy who actually did anything in the nba in 3 decades.

Salt Lake City , UT

Chris b, I know right? I love NBA all star we produce every year at Utah.

no comment
New Orleans, LA

You are so right ChrisB.
No impact at all in the last 30 years.

Unless you count Ainge making the all-star team, but I suppose that's not really making an impact.

I suppose that impact can only be measured in championships. Which brings up the nice photo of the champion Celtics with 3 cougars in the rotation, Ainge, Roberts and Kite.

So you are correct. As long as I close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears I can find no impact made in the NBA by cougars in the last 30 years.

Sandy, UT

That list is very unimpressive!

Plano, TX

Ainge, Roberts, Kite all had very productive careers (as did Vranes and Chambers from the U). Collingsworth reminds me so much of Ainge as a freshman and sophomore with the fire he brings to the floor. Haws is a good scorer, but Collingsworth has the potential to be a first round pick in 2 years.

Eagle Mountain, UT

I'm tired of clicking through these lists which are designed to make the user dig deeper into the site so they can rank higher on Google. 21 pages? Not gonna do it.

Joe Schmoe
Orem, UT

Once again Chris B commenting shows he must be a young one. Ainge, Roberts, Kite? Every heard of them?

Me, Myself and I
The Promised Land, UT

My only question is how is Jimmer this high on the list?

CO Ute

Ahh the late 70's and early 80's. BYU had Ainge, Kite, Roberts and Utah had Chambers, Vranes, and Judkins. Lots of talent on both teams and a bunch of players that went pro.

Provo, Utah

No. 6 catch my attention - #40 and #31, Gary Hill and Neil Roberts. Sometime during this period BYU hosted Ohio State at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse and beat THE Ohio State - LOL. Bobby Knight, Bill Bradley and Bobby Jones were on OSU. What year did BYU win the NIT?

Central, UT

@Me, Myself and I

Valid question.

Palmer, AK

Kreso Cosic would have been the best one ever but he turned down the NBA and chose to go back and play in Europe. He wanted to build the LDS Church in his homeland more than he wanted personal fame and fortune.

Tucson, AZ

Ditto the words of Logan....Kosic deserves special mention for turning down a spot with the Lakers, who drafted him, in order to do as has been said above. Kosic's promo of the noble game of hoops in his homeland also had the side benefit of helping to weaken the Iron Curtain - which the growth of Euro basketball in the old Yugoslavia aided in doing. Kosic accomplished much good during his 49 years of life in this world.

Salt Lake City, UT

Tom Chambers quietly had the best NBA Career of any Utah collegiate player. Dude made scoring look easy.

Salt Lake City, UT

And Chris B, as usual, trips over his own hate when he excludes Danny Ainge. The guy scored 12,000 points, made an All-Star team and was a starter on 4 NBA Finals teams (Boston and Phoenix).

Danbury, CT

There are really only 2 BYU pro players with impact in the past 30 years - Ainge and Cosic. Cosic is the only one to lead any league or tournament in scoring (in the Italian league in 1980 he was known as Signor Quaranta for scoring 40 points in a championship). His Yugoslav team beat the USSR in that era. Basically the same invincible Russians that the US team lost to in that era.

The rest of these guys shouldn't be on anyone's list. So they had playing time for a season or two. Big deal.

This list is just depressing as it highlights how low our program has been for so long.

And Chris B., you can crow all you want but Utah has not done one bit better.

BYU just has such a strange sense of their place in the sports world. In reality we are pretty irrelevant. Utah is not far behind.

California Steve
Hanford, CA

I was always impressed with how long Greg Kite, Fred Roberts and Shawn Bradley played in the NBA. Not the most talented of NBA players but always seemed to contribute. Keith Van Horn and Andre Miller seem to fit the same mold.

Overland Park, KS

A very meager listing for the years covered. It goes to show that the Cougs tend to over-perform vs their talent level. Kudos to Dave Rose! If we had a listing for the big name schools (i.e. Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown, Syracuse, etc.) we'd see a banner listing. I still have fun watching the Cougars play as a team!

Salt Lake City, UT

Ah I was wondering why Chris would always say "30 years" since, as someone who participates in enough climate change discussions, I assumed the number is probably cherrypicked and sure enough, two of the top four were drafted in '81 and '82, just outside the "30 years" range.

West Jordan, UT

I agree with the sentiment that many (including Chris B) are neglecting to acknowledge that Ainge and other BYU players made a splash in the NBA. However, to say Utah has made no splash would also be inappropriate. Though not necessarily in championships, Michael Doleac, Andre Miller, and Keith Van Horn are a few to name off the list and somewhat recently. Of course there are others, but just to name a few the younger crowd may recognize.

Big 'D'
San Mateo, CA

Um, in all these comments about U vs Y no one has mentioned BOGUT? A #1 draft pick?
What are we, a bunch of nationalists, excluding the Aussie? ;)

Parry is a Farce
Layton, UT

This is mis-titled. It isn't the "BEST" NBA Players to come out of BYU. It is "ALL" the NBA players to come out of BYU.

I think the best would be pretty short because I think you have to have some longevity to make that list. I'd limit the list to: Ainge, Bradley, Kite, Roberts, Eakins, and maybe Hutchins.

Provo, UT

Kosic definitely deserves special attention. I think Eakins also won an ABA title. He is a great guy.

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