Ranking the best NBA players from Utah schools: has Utah or BYU produced the most talent?

Published: Thursday, May 22 2014 11:47 p.m. MDT

There is nothing that most BYU and Utah fans like more than to brag about who has produced better players and who has had the most success in the professional ranks. It’s not just Utes and Cougars who love this argument either. Utah State and Weber State fans love to join the conversation too, when they have players to brag about. With the success that Damian Lillard has had in his first two seasons in the NBA, Wildcats have been front and center in these debates, and feeling good about where they stand.

Of Utah’s six major schools, the Utes have had the most NBA and ABA players with 27, followed by BYU (21), Utah State (nine), Weber State (nine) and Utah Valley (one) while Southern Utah hasn’t had any, according to basketball-reference.com. Here is the list that shows who has the ultimate bragging rights when it comes to the best NBA players ever produced out of Utah’s Division 1 schools.

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

Comments
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I did have to smile when I saw Shawn Bradley listed number 11 (the 4th highest BYU player listed) when the Deseret News, within the past week, ran a story with "Shawn Bradley goes from a "bust on the Basketball court" to a superstar off it!" headiline!

Uteology
East Salt Lake City, Utah

Wow! Jimmer didn't even make the list as honorable mention? Player hater!

Sinew South
Centennial, CO

As a BYU fan, I can readily admit that the Utes have a far more impressive list of pro players (which I knew would be the case before I viewed the list). As the next few years pass, I think Lillard will move up the list. I also think Kite was under-ranked. Chambers and Van Horn were fun to watch.

Wookie
Omaha, NE

Shawn makes the list as he had a decent NBA career, maybe it didn't pan out as a number 2 in the draft should go, but he was a decent player. I still think Andre Miller should be the number 1 player.

Go UTES!

Mormon Ute
Kaysville, UT

Go Utes! Even with the damage Boylen caused to the program, Utah still is on top for putting players in the NBA. Now Coach K is poised to start things back up again with Delon Wright most likely being drafted next year and a string of others following him in the years to come.

ekute
Layton, UT

Utah wins ultimate bragging rights. All of the schools are well represented. IMO, Ainge didn't get enough love. No need to bag on Jimmer. This is about best NBA players from Utah schools. He had a great college career. Go Utes!

Lew Scannon
Provo, UT

Okay, here's one from the memory bucket. After my senior year in high school, some of us former high school ball players would get together for pick-up games in the Weber High gym. A skinny little ninth grader with a pretty face used to hang around hoping to be invited to play. We didn't let him, even though his older brother had played on the school team. Well, little Tommy moved to Colorado with his family the next year. Pretty soon we were hearing about him. He had grown about 10 inches and was all-state in Colorado. We were a bit astonished. Yup, Tom Chambers. Sorry, Tom, for not letting you play with us. But it didn't seem to have hurt your career.

Ben H
Clearfield, UT

It would not surprise me one bit if you do this piece again in 3 or 4 years and find that Damien Lillard has moved to the top of this list. He may one day be the best player ever to come out of the state.

Esquire
Springville, UT

There are some good names here, but how to rank them is a challenge. Lillard may have the most impact of all of them by the time his career is over. I have to say his contribution in his first couple of years has probably exceeded the others. Andre Miller is till having an impact and he made a huge difference to the Wizards this year - huge. Ainge had a long career and he still has an impact as a GM.

For me, I don't really care to pit Utah vs. BYU vs. the other schools.

regis
Salt Lake City, UT

Tom Chambers was one of the greats. Danny Vranes got all the attention and was the guy who was supposed to be a "can't miss" NBA prospect. But I always felt Chambers was the better player and would be more successful in the pros than Vranes. He ended up scoring more than 20,000 points in his NBA career and is one of the top 40 scorers in NBA history. I'd say he was a pretty special player.

xert
Santa Monica, CA

This is an interesting list. Shawn Bradley is probably ranked about 5 slots too high and Fred Roberts was a better college player and played on much better teams and made more contributions. I'm a Ute fan, but I remember him being one of my all-time favorite opponents. Everyone talked about Devin Durrant, but it always seemed that Roberts was the one who tore your heart out. But other than that--I think this is pretty fair. Nice job.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

What? No Rafael Araújo? This is list is rigged!

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

I can't argue 1-5 very much. I do think Bradley was ranked too high and Roberts was ranked too low. It will be fun watching what Lillard is able to accomplish in the future.

Go Utes!

Kaladin
Greeley, CO

How does Kite only get "honorable mention"?

Jake Gordon
Vernal, UT

I kind of wish the Anaheim Amigos would come back. Maybe somebody could buy the Clippers and rename them the Amigos. At least it would make them seem like a friendlier franchise.

StGtoSLC
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Sitting at ninth on the all-time assists list (behind 6 Hall of Famers, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, also shoe-ins for the Hall), Andre still has an outside chance of making the Hall. In my mind, that should give him a good argument for #1 on this list, although Chambers is tough to argue against as well.

Serenity Now
Highland, UT

I don't disagree with this list, but I find it odd that neither of the two longest-tenured coaches in the state (BYU's Rose or Utah State's Morrill) have produced anyone on the list, while Weber State has in Lilliard.

Maybe that's just an indication of both BYU and USU getting the most out of their meager recruits, or not enough time passing, or the MWC stinking. But you would think both coaches at generally successful programs would have produced NBA talent by now. Gonzaga, St. Mary's, SDSU, New Mexico, and UNLV have all produced more NBA talent than USU and BYU during the past 10 years, but most would probably agree that USU and BYU have been equally successful "programs."

JohnInSLC
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Mike Sojourner was special. At 6'8" he could leap with the big boys. I remember a wire photo taken in his rookie season of him blocking one of Kareem's 'sky hook' shots.

Uncle festis
Pasadena, CA

Leave jimmer alone!

TRUTH
Salt Lake City, UT

Jimmer was 47......as in days of 47.....that how many Jimmer laid on the Utes on their home floor.....47 Ute Fans! and most of them were 10 ft behind the 3 pt line!

Rock Of The Marne
Phoenix, AZ

Hey TRUTH, yes Jimmer laid 47 on the Utes at the Huntsman Center, but Ute BIlly "The Hill" McGill laid 61 on BYU in Provo; I think that's game, set, match. Awesome list of Utes, including two number one overall NBA picks. As to Lillard one day being tops, I think has a long way to go before he unseats Chambers as well as some of the others, but a rare talent he is.

Rock Of The Marne
Phoenix, AZ

My bad, McGill only scored 60 on BYU.

AggieFan74
Ogden, UT

All great players. Reading through the list I couldn't help but wonder what kind of pro the late great Wayne Estes would have been. He was rumored to go in the top four or five picks in the 64 NBA draft.

HaHaHaHa
Othello, WA

Pretty good list. I find little to disagree with, except I might move Ainge higher, and lillard might be ranked a little to high. Ainge probably has more rings, and definitely has more championship experience then any of the players listed. Larry Bird once called him the best all around athlete he has ever played with. Lillard landed on a team that goes to the playoffs more then most teams, just doesn't go very deep most years. Yea he has been exciting at times, but so have a lot of players. tell me about him in 10 years. Chambers was a scorer. Used to be exciting to watch him get things rolling when he was in Seattle. Not much D, but lots of offense.

DraperUteFan
Draper, UT

Andre Miller has been a very durable and solid NBA player, but Tom Chambers was the Dirk Nowitzki of his time. He could run the floor and dunk, score from the low post, and was a very good outside shooter. He was a decent defender and very good rebounder.

This list is very solid. Most people don't remember Mike Newlin, but he was a great player in his time. Ainge had a very good career and Fred Roberts was also a pretty good player in the NBA. Overall a very good list.

Damian Lillard is a special player to be sure, but will need to string together an entire career of production like Ainge, Chambers, and Andre did to move up the list.

TripleCrown
Santa Ana, CA

I would hope that the highest priority of the very best collegiate coaches, in addition to helping their players achieve their highest athletic potential, would be helping their players reach their highest potential as honorable spouses, parents, and citizens, since most will never play professional sports.

AZ Ute
Scottsdale, AZ

Someone once told me that when Vranes and Chambers were at the U, Frank Layden was asked which of the two he would rather have on his NBA team. He saidChambers without hesitation. When pressed as to why, he said something to the effect that Vranes was as good as he was going to get while Chambers had a much bigger upside. Prophecy fulfilled.

eagle
Provo, UT

AZ Ute:

Frank Layden knew talent...

Other notes: I think Jimmer deserves an honorable mention. Fred Roberts is underrated. How about Devin Durrant for Honorable Mention. I would rank Lillard ahead of Bogut. Shawn Bradley is overrated...

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments