Boise State Basketball

With Hutchison set to end draft drought, BSU Hall of Famer reflects on his 'incredible' night

As a senior at Boise State during the 1998-99 season, Roberto Bergersen averaged 22.2 points per game and led the Broncos in steals (54), 3-pointers made (71) and free-throw percentage (80.8) and ranked second in rebounding (280) and assists (176).
As a senior at Boise State during the 1998-99 season, Roberto Bergersen averaged 22.2 points per game and led the Broncos in steals (54), 3-pointers made (71) and free-throw percentage (80.8) and ranked second in rebounding (280) and assists (176). Statesman file

The next few days are bound to be a whirlwind for Boise State alum Chandler Hutchison.

Roberto Bergersen knows the feeling.

Although it has been 19 years since he heard his name called with the 52nd overall pick in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft, Bergersen is the most recent Boise State men's basketball player drafted. And no one before him was taken any higher.

Now Bergersen is poised to hand over both distinctions to Hutchison on Thursday night.

"It's an exciting time for Chandler. It's exciting for Bronco basketball, and it's exciting for me because I get to kind of relive and review some of the experiences that I had," Bergersen said. "I'm just always so grateful and thankful to have even had that opportunity."

Hutchison is one of 20 players officially invited to be in the green room for this year's draft at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. Television coverage begins at 5 p.m. Mountain time on ESPN, and it is widely projected that Hutchison will become Boise State's first men's basketball player to go in the first round.

"His versatility I think is his biggest strength, him just being a player," Bergersen said. "Especially this day and age, basketball has changed. It's a lot different from when I was playing and when I was getting ready to be drafted. ... They're not looking for positions as much anymore. Now it's positionless, and I think that's his biggest asset.

"You can put Chandler on the floor and he can guard three, four different positions. You can put him on the floor and he can play three, four different spots. He can be a guy that can have the ball in his hands and make plays, but he can also be a guy that can play off the ball and be a supporting cast. That's very valuable."

Hutchison will learn his NBA fate in front of a live television audience of millions; Bergersen was at his grandparents' home in Tacoma, Washington, when he and 40 or so family members and friends heard his name announced on national TV by Rod Thorn, then the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations.

"I am just totally overwhelmed," Bergersen told the Idaho Statesman on draft night. "It's just incredible. I don't even know how to say how good this feels right now."

The Atlanta Hawks selected Bergersen, and then minutes later traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers for cash considerations.

"He's an outstanding 3-point shooter," TNT analyst Hubie Brown said during the broadcast, according to Statesman archives. "He looks for the 3. He's got a solid body, and he can really score."

Then the whirlwind started.

"I think I had like maybe two days before I left and went down to Portland for a mini-training camp before summer league started," Bergersen said. "I just worked the whole summer. I got like two or three days of. ... I was kind of soaking it up and getting as much basketball as possible. It was a summer that I definitely missed my wife and my son, but I was living that dream, and we knew going into it that it was going to have to be a big sacrifice if I wanted to play at that level."

Shortly before the start of the NBA season in October 1999, the Trail Blazers made a trade with the Houston Rockets, sending six players to Houston in exchange for Scottie Pippen. The Rockets then released one of those players, Stacey Augmon, and the Blazers signed him back right away.

Pippen arrived in Portland the next day and was given Bergersen's No. 33 jersey.

"I showed up to my locker and there was a new number. I had No. 4. I didn't have No. 33 anymore," Bergersen said. "You hear a lot of glamorous stories about guys coming in, and when you already have their number, they buy it from you or they trade it. There was no negotiations at all. It was, 'Here's your new number. You don't have nothing to say.'

"I was a rookie. I was in awe that I was in the same locker room as Scottie Pippen and got to play with him."

More bad news followed, though.

Because of Augmon's return, Bergersen became the Blazers' final cut in training camp.

"And that was that," Bergersen said.

Bergersen never did appear in a regular season NBA game, but the Boise State Hall of Famer did go on to a decorated career playing in professional leagues in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Turkey and the United States. Bergersen helped the Idaho Stampede win a D-League title in 2008, and the Stampede retired his No. 11 jersey in 2014.

There's no telling where Hutchison's career is headed, but like many in the Boise community, Bergersen can't wait to follow along.

"It's cool that he gets to be in the room, gets to put on the hat and shake the commissioner's hand," Bergersen said. "I'm excited to see that and live that through him. I know he'll enjoy it, and I can't wait to see where he goes."

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