Damian Lillard: Scoring King of the Beehive State

by Daniel Olsen | If we are including the best scorers in NBA history who played college basketball in Utah, then the 6 foot 2 guard out of Weber State has undisputedly become the best to ever do it. In college, yes, Jimmer was sensational. He was also a really high scorer in China. However, Damian Lillard scored 61 points last night which tied his highest scoring game ever back on January 20, 2020. He set the record for most points scored on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Let’s look at the numbers for the top scoring performances by NBA players who played college hoops in Utah:

5. Kyle Kuzma and Billy “The Hill” McGill: Both of these players are tied for fifth on this list as they each recorded 41 points in their highest scoring NBA games. McGill was a little more impressive as he scored his 41 points before there was a three-point line in the NBA. He accomplished this feat on November 26, 1963, but his Knicks lost that game 112-119 to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Kuzma is still young in NBA years and has time to climb up this list. He scored his 41 on January 9, 2019 against the Detroit Pistons in a 113-100 win.

4. Danny Ainge: He is one of the greatest scorers in BYU history and went on to play for the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers, and Phoenix Suns. His career high is 45, which is a perfect number for a player out of the Beehive State (Utah was admitted as the 45th state of the United States of America in 1896). Ainge had his career high while playing for the Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 9, 1988. He also matched this output against the Warriors the same season on March 4, 1989.

3. Andre Miller and Mike Newlin: Miler, a former member of the 1998 runner-up Utes team, scored 52 in his highest-scoring NBA game. This amazing game was against the Dallas Mavericks as his Blazers won 114-112. This was on January 30, 2010. Another former Ute, Mike Newlin also scored 52 points against Boston in 1979.

2. Tom Chambers: Tom had his highest scoring game versus his former team, the Seattle Supersonics. He had 60 points. People forget just how great he was. He was certainly capable of scoring and had an accomplished NBA career. He had this eye-popping game on March 24, 1990 while playing for the Phoenix Suns.

1. Damian Lillard: It’s not game time, it’s DAME TIME! As mentioned earlier in this article, he has scored 61 points in one game – not just once, but twice. He has had some impressive walk-off threes to clinch playoff series versus the Thunder and Rockets as well. He has scored more than any Cougar, Ute or Aggie. On a night where the Portland Timbers won the MLS is Back Tournament Final, Damian Lillard reminded Rip City that he is on a mission to take the Trailblazers to new heights as well.

Honorable mentions:

Jimmer Fredette: If we are counting games in college or China, then Jimmer would be much higher on this list. While his career high performance in the NBA was only 24 points during his time with the Kings (on February 12, 2014 in an overtime win versus the Knicks), that doesn’t diminish what he did in other moments in his basketball journey. He scored 75 in a game for the Shanghai Sharks and 47 points while playing for BYU over his rival Utes in the Huntsman Center.

Danny Vranes: This former Ute also had a 24 point career high game in the NBA. This was on October 26, 1984 when he played our very own Utah Jazz. His SuperSonics won 102-94.

Delon Wright: This former Ute had a 26 point NBA career high. This was against the Dallas Mavericks on April 5, 2019. His Memphis Grizzlies would win 122-112 in that game.

Andrew Bogut: The former Ute and first pick in the 2005 NBA Draft had a career high of 32 points. He accomplished this feat on New Year’s Day in 2010. Unfortunately, his Bucks still fell to the Mavs by one point in that game.

Jerry Chambers: This former Ute had a career high of 34 points in the NBA while playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately, it was in a 121-117 loss to the Houston Rockets on Halloween night in 1970.

Keith Van Horn: This former Ute had a career high of 35 points in the NBA while playing for the New Jersey Nets. This was in a convincing 97-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons on February 16, 1999.


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