Former Utah guard Mike Newlin checks in at #9 on list of top Utah pro athletes. Newlin played for the Utah basketball team from 1968-71 under Hall of Fame coach Jack Gardner. Newlin was a three-time First-Team All-WAC in each of his final three seasons at Utah. He was selected in the second round, 24th overall (7th pick in the second round) in the 1971 NBA Draft by the San Diego Rockets. Newlin played in the NBA from 1971-82 with the Houston Rockets (1971-79), the New Jersey Nets (1979-81), and the New York Knicks (1981-82).
Newlin was a tough, scrappy player on the court. He was a good shooter, especially from the free throw line (.870 career free throw percentage) and a good passer. He became a starter in his second season with the Rockets and became a key player for them throughout the '70s.
Newlin scored 8,480 points as a member of the Rockets, which ranks eighth in team history. Over his career, he finished with 12,507 points (14.9 ppg), 2,494 rebounds (3.0 rpg), and 3,364 assists (4.0 apg). His 14.9 career points per game is third all-time for former Runnin' Utes, and his 4.0 career assists per game is second behind only Andre Miller for former Runnin' Utes.
Newlin was part of several teams that made the playoffs, with the deepest playoff run coming when the Rockets advanced to the 1977 Eastern Conference Finals. As a member of the Nets in the 1980-81 season, Newlin had his best scoring season, averaging 21.4 points per game. Newlin likely would have had even more points over his career had the three-point line existed for his entire career. Once it was instituted for the 1979-80 season, Newlin averaged over 20 points per game in two of his final three NBA seasons (the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons). Newlin is third in NBA career scoring of any former Utah basketball player, despite playing most of his career without the three-point shot.
Newlin represents the oldest Utah basketball player on our list. We went with him over other Utah greats Arnie Ferrin, Vern Gardner, Bill "the Hill" McGill, who was a No. 1 overall pick, and Luther "Ticky" Burden because he had a longer NBA career, averaged more minutes, points, and assists per game than any of them. While players like Ferrin and Gardner helped bring an NCAA Tournament Championship to Utah and McGill was a No. 1 pick, Newlin had the better NBA career while those others were better in college.