Today is the 2006 NBA Draft and since there are no Utes partaking in the events, I've decided to look at Utah players in the NBA.
Last season saw the Utes become the first program in NCAA history to produce both the #1 picks in the NBA and NFL drafts. Andrew Bogut and Alex Smith capped off an undefeated, BCS busting football season and a nearly perfect Sweet 16 basketball season.
Andrew Bogut was chosen #1 by the Milwaukee Bucks and though many lauded the choice, others scrutinized it. It's too early to map Bogut's career, however early indications seem to show that he won't be the big flop some fans and media pundits predicted. What a surprise, the so called experts were proven wrong.
But Bogut isn't the only player from the Utes to be drafted recently. In fact, the Utes have a pretty decent amount of alumni in the league, especially for a non-power conference team.
Currently there are 4 former Utes in the NBA right now, though Britton Johnsen and Hanno Mottola played a couple of seasons in the NBA more recently.
With all that said, here's a quick look at current Utes in the NBA and their success (or lack of success) since joining the association.
Keith Van Horn
Drafted #2 in 1997 by the Philadelphia 76ers, traded to New Jeresey
After guiding the Utah Utes to the 1997 Elite Eight, Keith Van Horn was drafted #2 in the 1997 NBA draft. Van Horn was the first (and only) player in WAC history to be named Conference Player of the Year 3 consecutive times. His 2,542 points make Van Horn the leading career scorer in both Utah and WAC history.
Van Horn was drafted by the Sixers and then traded to New Jersey, where he spent 5 seasons. Ironically, New Jersey would trade Van Horn to Philadelphia, where he would play for one season.
Van Horn's career has been plagued with injury, yet he's still been able to average a respectable 16 points per game. Currently Van Horn plays for the Dallas Mavericks, where he's struggled, only averaging 9 points per game and 4 rebounds per game (below his average of 7). Van Horn played limited time with the Mavs during their NBA Finals series with the Miami Heat.
Van Horn has struggled recently, especially with injury. Rumors out of Dallas point to Van Horn's exit from the Mavs.
Drafted #12 in 1998 by the Orland Magic
Michael Doleac was drafted by the Orland Magic in the 1998 NBA draft after leading Utah to the NCAA national championship game. While at Utah, Doleac scored 1,519 points (10th in Utah history) and 886 rebounds (8th in Utah history).
While with the Magic, Doleac had limited success. Though he's never been a terrible player, Doleac has had a fairly average career. He spent 3 seasons with the Magic, averaging 7 points per game and 4 rebounds per game. Currently Doleac plays for the Miami Heat.
With Miami, Doleac has had a limited role and has only averaged 4 points per game and 3 rebounds per game. Though Miami made the 2006 NBA Finals, he only played in one game with the Heat. His best game this season in the playoffs came against Chicago in game 2, where he scored 8 points and had 5 rebounds.
Drafted #8 in 1999 by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Andre Miller is undoubtedly the most success Ute currently in the NBA. Miller would lead Utah to the 1998 national championship game, then an undefeated WAC season the very next year. After injuring his hand late in the season, the Utes struggled in the 1999 NCAA Tournament before bowing out to the Miami Redhawks in the second round. However Miller's success at Utah is plentiful. In the 1998 Final Four game between North Carolina, Miller had a rare tournament triple double.
Originally Miller spent 3 seasons with the Cavs, where he averaged 14 points per game and 8 assists per game there. He was later traded to the Clippers and then signed with the Nuggets, his current team.
Miller currently starts for Denver and has led the Nuggets to the NBA playoffs. Whether he continues playing for Denver is unknown, as his name has been shopped around the league for the past two seasons. Especially now since his basketball stock has risen since his days in Cleveland. Miller has proven to be a strong, capable point guard, whose success has made him one of the best players ever drafted out of Utah.
Drafted #1 in 2005 by the Milwaukee Bucks
Utah's only Wooden Award Winner and possibly the greatest player in Utah basketball history, Andrew Bogut was drafted #1 by the Milwaukee Bucks in last year's draft.
Bogut, who played 2 seasons with the Utes, guided Utah to their first Sweet 16 appearance since the 1998 season and was a near consensus player of the year award winner.
Bogut averaged 12.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in his rookie season with the Utes and for his efforts, he was named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. In his second and final season with Utah, Bogut averaged 20.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and shot 62.0% from the field.
In Bogut's rookie season with the Bucks, he averaged 9.4 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game. That success gave Bogut All-Rookie First Team honors and he finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year votes.
It'll be interesting to see if names are added to this list in the coming years. Ray Giacoletti is said to be putting together some of Utah's best recruiting classes, though it's unclear if that talent has NBA potential. Out of the Utes current crop of players, it would seem Luke Nevill is the most NBA ready and it would not surprise me if in a couple of years we add his name to the list.