Utah retires Bogut's jersey at halftime ceremony

Updated: February 18, 2006, 11:05 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- It took Utah less than a year to honor Andrew Bogut.

Utah retired Bogut's jersey on Saturday during a halftime ceremony of the Utes' game against Air Force, hanging the large No. 4 from the rafters for a player who had a short but stellar career in the Huntsman Center.

Bogut is the seventh player in school history to have his jersey retired. The ceremony came less than a year after he played his last game for the Utes, a loss to Kentucky in the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Bogut received several rousing ovations as he stood by the scorers' table and watched the No. 4 unfurl next to Bill McGill's No. 12.

The normally stoic Bogut even gave a rare public smile as he waved to the fans, who made it through a snowstorm to get to the game. Fans in the student section waved Australian flags and chanted "Bo-gut! Bo-gut!" as he waited for it to quiet down enough so he could speak.

"This is really emotional for me," Bogut told the fans.

Bogut was at Utah for two seasons before leaving early for the NBA and was taken No. 1 overall in the draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Utes wanted to thank him and found a weekend when he was free to make it back to Salt Lake City.

"I think it's unbelievable. Getting your jersey retired, whether it be in high school, college, little league or whatever," Bogut said Saturday afternoon. "It's an amazing achievement. It's something you'll remember forever."

Bogut squeezed a trip back to his old school in a busy weekend. Bogut had 14 points and 10 rebounds Friday night in the Rookie Challenge in Houston, then boarded a flight Saturday morning. He got to the Huntsman Center just before the Utes' shootaround and shook a few hands and greeted his former teammates and coaches.

"It's very special for me to come and see them play," Bogut said in the Ute locker room, which he helped remodel with a $150,000 donation.

Bogut sat wearing a dark suit and tie behind the Utah bench and coach Ray Giacoletti, who visited Bogut at his home in Australia in 2004 and convinced him to return to Utah for his sophomore season -- Giacoletti's first at Utah.

"Without Coach Giacoletti, I wouldn't be standing here today. He really opened up my game and let me play basketball," Bogut said.

Bogut joins McGill, Arnie Ferrin (No. 22), Danny Vranes (23), Andre Miller (24), Vern Gardner (33) and Keith Van Horn (44) as the only Utes to have their jerseys retired.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press