Top 10 Colorado basketball players in NBA history

Despite being known for its elevation, Colorado’s basketball bonafides don’t rise to the level of hoops hotbeds such as New York, Illinois and California.

When it comes to born-and-raised basketball stars from the Centennial State, putting together a top 10 is no easy task. It’s not that the state’s high schools don’t produce talent. NBA All-Stars Chauncey Billups, Scott Wedman, Tom Chambers, Micheal Ray Richardson and Joe Barry Carroll all spent their prep days on the Front Range. But only one of those men took his first breaths in Colorado’s thin air.

For that reason, we’ve switched things up in our fourth and final installment of top 10 Colorado pro stars and widened our focus to include those who played high school ball here, but were born elsewhere.

10. Glen Gondrezick

Denver Post file

Glen Gondrezick’s basketball roots continue with his job as a radio analyst for UNLV, the former Boulder standout’s alma mater.

PF/SF | Boulder | 1977-83

The elder of Boulder’s two NBA-playing Gondrezick brothers, Glen enrolled at UNLV and started for the Runnin’ Rebels’ first Final Four team in 1977. The New York Knicks selected the 6-foot-6 forward 26th overall in that same year’s NBA draft — the start of a six-year career that ended with four seasons in Denver. While he never earned any accolades, Gondrezick was a contributor on three playoff teams and had career averages of 5.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

9. Jason Smith

Jason Smith #14 of the Washington ...

Rob Carr, Getty Images

Jason Smith of the Washington Wizards poses during media day at Capital One Arena on Sept. 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

C | Platte Valley | 2007-19

A two-time All-Mountain West selection in three seasons with the CSU Rams, the 7-footer was chosen 20th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2007 draft and immediately sent to Philadelphia. That was the start of a winding NBA journey that saw him play for six franchises over 11 seasons. An unfortunate string of injuries during his four-year run in New Orleans kept him from reaching his ceiling. Still, Smith managed to put together a solid career with averages of 6.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

8. Pat Garrity

Getty Images file

Pat Garrity of the Phoenix Suns shoots during the NBA preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

SF/PF  | Lewis-Palmer | 1998-2008

The centerpiece of the Rangers’ 1994 state title team, Garrity chose Notre Dame out of several suitors and was an All-American in his fourth and final season in South Bend. After being selected with the 19th overall pick of the 1998 draft, the 6-9 sharpshooter played 10 seasons in the NBA with two franchises — Phoenix (one) and Orlando (nine). He twice averaged double-digit scoring and is 54th all-time in career 3-point shooting (39.8%).

7. Reggie Jackson

Katelyn Mulcahy, Getty Images

Reggie Jackson #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers handles the ball during the fourth quarter in a game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on Feb. 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

PG | Palmer | 2011-present

The son of an Air Force serviceman, Jackson was born in Italy before his family eventually settled in Colorado. The 2008 Colorado Gatorade player of the year attended Boston College for three years, ending in an All-ACC selection in 2011. He was taken with the 24th overall pick by Oklahoma City the same year and has averaged 12.9 ppg and 4.4 app over a nine-year career spanning three franchises. When the NBA resumes play in Orlando next month, the 6-3 guard will suit up for the title-contending L.A. Clippers.

6. Chuck Williams

PG  | Denver East | 1970-78

Born in the Bay Area, Williams moved to Colorado as a grade schooler and quickly became a sports fixture, winning football and basketball state titles at East before playing for the CU Buffs. The powerful 6-2 guard suited up for seven teams over an eight-year pro career, a majority of which was spent in the ABA. A two-time ABA all-star, he twice led the league in total assists and played for both of Denver’s pro hoops franchises — the Rockets and Nuggets — before finishing with career averages of 10.8 ppg, 4.5 apg and 1.0 spg.

5. Micheal Ray Richardson

Sue Ogrocki, The Associated Press

Former NBA basketball star Micheal Ray Richardson, right, joins in a drill during a basketball clinic sponsored by the National Basketball Retired Players Association, in Moore, Okla., Thursday, June 13, 2013.

PG/SG | Manual | 1978-86

A late bloomer at Manual, “Sugar Ray” was recruited to Montana by Hall of Fame coach Jud Heathcote. There he earned three All-Big Sky nods before being drafted fourth overall by the Knicks in 1978. Richardson rewarded New York with three all-star seasons, including a 1979-80 campaign in which he led the NBA in assists (10.1) and steals (3.2) per game. The 6-5 guard had one more all-star season in New Jersey before his eight-year NBA career abruptly ended when Commissioner David Stern banned him for life for violating the league’s drug policy for a third time.

4. Joe Barry Carroll

Rick Stewart, Getty Images

Joe Barry Carroll #2 of the Houston Rockets looks on from the bench during a game in the1987-88 season.

C | Denver East | 1980-91

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