Andrew Bogut's career at the University of Utah consisted of just two seasons. It was long enough, however, to leave a permanent mark on the program.
At halftime of Saturday's Utah-Air Force game in the Huntsman Center, Bogut became the seventh player in the school's storied basketball history to have his jersey number retired.
Bogut's No. 4 now hangs from the arena ceiling alongside banners honoring Billy McGill (12), Arnie Ferrin (22), Danny Vranes (23), Andre Miller (24), Vern Gardner (33) and Keith Van Horn (44).
"There's some great players," Bogut said. "They're a part of Utah history, and I'm just proud to be part of it, too."
Bogut, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, by the Milwaukee Bucks, considers the honor special.
"I think it's unbelievable getting your jersey retired whether it be in high school, college, little league, or whatever," Bogut said. "It's an amazing accomplishment. It's something you'll remember forever. It's going to be in Utah history forever, which is awesome to me."
After leading the Utes to a 29-6 record and the Sweet 16 in 2004-05, Bogut earned consensus All-America recognition. He received numerous national accolades, including the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Associated Press Player of the Year, USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy and NABC Division I Player of the Year.
Last season's Mountain West Conference Player of the Year led the nation with 26 double-doubles while averaging 20.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and shooting 62 percent from the field as a sophomore.
Utah coach Ray Giacoletti welcomed Bogut back with a pregame introduction to the crowd. The "special guest" drew a standing ovation as he and the coach walked to center court.
"Unfortunately we won't be able to suit him up tonight," Giacoletti said.
Bogut learned of his jersey retirement a couple of months ago. He had just returned to Milwaukee from a road trip when Giacoletti called with the news. The announcement caught Bogut off guard. He acknowledged feeling both shocked and relieved in a way noting Utah's team success had a lot to do with it.
"Andrew worked hard and cared about his teammates," athletics director Chris Hill said during the halftime ceremony.
Bogut, who received a framed jersey, then addressed the crowd.
"This is real emotional," he said while thanking the university, his family and the fans.
In his closing remarks, Bogut said that if it weren't for his financial situation he would have played two more seasons for the Utes.
Prior to attending an afternoon press conference, Bogut visited with his former teammates before their game-day shootaround.
"It's very special for me to come back and see them," said Bogut, who caught an early flight to Salt Lake City after recording a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in Friday's Rookie-Sophomore Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston.
Bogut said his transition to pro ball is progressing. He enjoys playing in Milwaukee.
"The biggest part for me is the adjustment off the court," Bogut said while noting the rigors of travel and tight schedules. "The lifestyle of the NBA is crazy."
The game itself, he added, is much quicker than college ball. Rule differences like defensive three seconds also have presented challenges.
Even so, Bogut said basketball is basketball and he'll make the necessary adjustments.
So, too, he continued, will the Utes. Bogut predicts a bight future after a rebuilding year for his alma mater. He praised Giacoletti for making the right decision and allowing several players with detrimental attitudes to leave the program.
Before watching the Utes and Falcons play, Bogut attended a pregame reception with more than 50 former basketball lettermen from Utah, including Ferrin, McGill and Vranes.
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