Two fond farewells: U to honor Marc Jackson, super-soph Bogut on ‘Senior Night’

It will be one fond farewell and one fond farewell with an asterisk Saturday in the Huntsman Center, when Marc Jackson and Andrew Bogut are honored on “Senior Night.”

The No. 16 Utes (24-4, 12-1 MWC) will pay tribute to the pair before the 1 p.m. game with San Diego State (10-16, 4-8 MWC).

Jackson is the only Ute senior this year, and has parlayed this season into a happy ending to a tumultuous career.

“Marc goes out with a good taste in his mouth of Utah basketball,” U coach Ray Giacoletti said. “He’s very deserving. He’s put a lot of time and effort into [this season].”

Jackson returned to the Utes this season after taking a year off from college basketball. His return to the team was Giacoletti’s first controversial move, but the choice has worked out well for everybody.

“He’s a guy that any coach in America would love to have on his team,” Giacoletti said. “Marc has been the heart and soul of this team since his first day back.”

The Olympus High grad has been a starter in the backcourt all year, averaging 10.7 points and 3.7 assists per game. His 11 assists in Saturday’s win over BYU were a career high.

“This season has been awesome,” Jackson said. “It’s another game, [but] it’s going to be exciting to get recognized.”

While Bogut is only a sophomore, the odds are slim that he will be back in a Ute uniform next season. He figures to be a high lottery pick in the NBA draft, and the All-America candidate realizes this will probably be his last game in front of the home crowd.

“I’m not going to lie, there’s a high chance I’m not coming back,” Bogut said. “It will hit me once I’m gone.”

Bogut says he will make up his mind about the future following the season, but it would probably take a major injury, a dramatic drop in draft status, or being picked by the Jazz to see him back in Salt Lake City next fall.

“He’s meant a lot to this program and the university the last two years,” Giacoletti said. “We just want to make sure, if it is [his last home game], that we had a chance to say thank you.”

In his two years on the hill, Bogut has accomplished more than most do in four. The Aussie center is 13 points shy of becoming the 31st player in school history to amass 1,000 career points. If he should get there this season, he would join Jerry Chambers and Art Bunte as the only Utes to accomplish the feat in two years.

After a good freshman campaign, Bogut has been simply sensational as a sophomore. He is mentioned at the top of every award list, including the Wooden and Naismith National Player of the Year awards.

Bogut averages 20.6 points per game, good for 15th in the country, and his 11.9 rebounds per contest rank him third. He is also third in field goal percentage with 63.8 pct.

“Andrew is the best player I’ve ever been around,” Giacoletti said. “I hope the fans of Salt Lake and the University of Utah have appreciated him over the last two years because guys like him don’t come around very often.”

The Aztecs come in currently holding the sixth spot in the MWC. The Utes knocked them off 64-41 in San Diego, blowing open a close game with a big second-half run. The university will be giving out free tickets to the SDSU game at Friday’s gymnastics meet. Gymnastics tickets can be taken to the Huntsman Center box office starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, and can be redeemed for a free ticket to Saturday’s basketball game.

[email protected]