Top Utah Athletes Of The Decade Features Lillard, Mitchell and Taysom Hill

Dec 31, 2019, 10:41 AM
Photos: Getty Images...
Photos: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 2010s are coming to a close and there are plenty of all-decade lists celebrating the last 10 years of sports. KSL Unrivaled named their top athletes with Utah ties of the decade.

Is A Jazz Player Worthy?

The 2010s for the Utah Jazz started off with a mixed bag of winning and losing seasons but the last four years have had a lot of promise with playoff appearances and high expectations.

Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and begrudgingly Gordon Hayward all made the list for Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry, hosts of Unrivaled.

“Donovan Mitchell has been a shot in the arm that this organization and fanbase needed,” Kirry said. “It is a level of excitement that we have not gotten from the Jazz in a long time with Donovan Mitchell. I think he is the most exciting person out of it.”

Mitchell came in as a rookie and exceeded all expectations as a mid-round draft pick and has become a 20-point per game scorer from his first year.

Those things may not have happened if the next player on our list was still with the team.

“Gordon Hayward is hard for me,” Mitchell said. “I know he is an All-Star but I am still jilted. Now, had he still been here, no question, he would be at the top of the list.”

Who knows how the rest of the Jazz decade would have turned out with a team of Hayward, Mitchell, and others. It might be a better team or maybe just middle of the pack, but Jazz fans are pretty excited about how the team has transformed the past few seasons and what is ahead in the next decade of Jazz basketball.

“Here is my ranking: Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Bojan is right below Hayward as he has already done enough, but I am doing a bit of projecting,” Kirry said.

JimmerMania, Dame D.O.L.L.A. & BWagz

Keeping in line with hoops there are two local players who have shined in the pros and at the collegiate level.

Former Weber State great Damian Lillard is having one of the best careers of anyone hailing from Utah in the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers.

On the college front, Jimmer Fredette tops the list for bringing the national spotlight to BYU during his time there.

“Lillard is probably the best pro that came out of the state of Utah over the last decade, for sure,” Kirry said.

As for Fredette, he brought a different type of energy and buzz not just from BYU or fans from the state of Utah, but what he did in Provo took national notice every time he took to the court for the Cougars.

For those on the younger side, it is hard to just look at Fredette and then imagine him being one of the best basketball players ever to play in the state of Utah.

“Case in point. I went to an event where Jimmer Fredette was at this past summer with my son who said, ‘oh, that is him right there? That is what he looks like?’ Then I realized that my son is 10 years old and he has no idea the impact that Jimmer had on the state,” Kirry said. “Jimmer Mania was one of the craziest things I have covered in the state.”

On the NFL front locally, Bobby Wagner makes the cut. He is one of the best players to ever come through Utah State and in the NFL he is one of the best linebackers of the decade with the Seattle Seahawks.

Wagner is the all-time leading tackler for Seattle, a four-time All-pro selection – maybe going on five- and he is a Super Bowl Champion.

“Bobby Wagner made the all-decade team for the NFL. We would look really stupid if he wasn’t on our list,” Mithell said.

Best Of Utah, BYU Football

Utah athletics, specifically football, had a huge decade from landing a spot to the Pac-12 at the start of the decade to the end which bookended back-to-back Pac-12 title game appearances.

Zack Moss is the conversation for best Utah athletes of the decade, according to the duo. The only knock against him is the short time of his career being associated with Utah.

There is no doubt he is the best Ute running back of all-time, but all-decade is a different level.

For the BYU side, there is, of course, Taysom Hill. He had a career in Provo that showed amazing promise but also was sidelined by injuries.

“He is almost like a fairy tale and maybe bigger in people’s minds,” Kirry said. “At BYU, it was a tale of a lot of bad injuries with some amazing plays here and there with one really good amazing sophomore year in 2013. The reality is we have not seen an athlete like home out of BYU. Then in the NFL, he has found a footing being a jack-of-all-trades with the New Orleans Saints scoring touchdowns.”

“Taysom Hill is on here because of what he did recently,” Mitchell said. “The BYU thing was not great. He was a tremendous athlete but to see what he has been built into at New Orleans. To me, I love watching Taysom Hill and wondering what they will do with him next and he is an impact player in the NFL.”

The state of Utah has lots of great athletes that have come through over the past decade across all sports. To hear about more athletes that made an impact over the past decade make sure to listen to the whole segment from KSL Unrivaled.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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