MBB: Former Utah star Michael Doleac best college player to wear No. 51

Courtesy of Utah Athletic Website

Ryan Kostecka

If you ask and Utah Utes basketball fan who some of the greatest players in program history are, you're more than likely to get common household NBA names like Andre Miller, Keith Van Horn and Kyle Kuzma.

But there's one name that may stand above the rest metaphorically, because physically he's clearly taller than any other Ute on the list.

Michael Doleac, the 6-foot-11, 265-pound center, was an integral part of the 1997-98 Utah basketball team that lost to Kentucky in the national championships game that season.

Over his four-year career as a Ute, Doleac averaged 11.6 points and and 6.8 rebounds per game, number that are slightly skewed considering his junior and seasons is where he dominated — averaging 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Because of those numbers, and after being drafted No. 12 overall to the Orlando Magic in the 1998 NBA draft, Doleac was named by the Athletic as the greatest college basketball player to wear No. 51. He later won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat where he played in a reserve role as Shaquille O'Neal's backup.

Former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who led Doleac all four years as a Ute, says Doleac was a guy who didn't like the spotlight although it consistently found him due to his talented style of play.

"He's become an absolute killer in the paint, but Mike has struggled with that at times, because he's such a nice person," Majerus told the Salt Lake Tribune back in 1998. "He's the king of the barbecue. Maybe that's another way to be. Maybe he's better off that way."

Doleac recently served as head coach of the Park City High School (Park City, Utah) boys basketball program before leaving prior to the start of the 2019-20 season.