Utah plans to retire late basketball great Wat Misaka’s number next season

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) Wat Misaka, the first ethnic minority drafted into the NBA in the 1940s, stands at his business in Salt Lake, Sept. 5, 2008.

A University of Utah basketball legend will get his just due next season.

Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan announced on Thursday that the late Wat Misaka will have his No. 21 jersey retired next season at the Huntsman Center. Harlan’s announcement was made on the floor of the Utah State Senate on Thursday morning in conjunction with the State Legislature honoring Misaka, who passed away on Nov. 20 at the age of 95.

Misaka, who is recognized as the first non-caucasian to play in the NBA after he played in three games for the New York Knicks during the 1947-48 season, helped lead Utah to the NCAA championship in 1944 and the NIT crown in 1947. In between, Misaka served two years with the United States Army during World War II.

Misaka will be the ninth former Ute to have his number retired, joining No. 22 Arnie Ferrin, No. 33 Vern Gardner, No. 12 Billy McGill, No. 23 Danny Vranes, No. 44 Keith Van Horn, No. 24 Andre Miller and No. 4 Andrew Bogut.

Utah also retired women’s basketball great Kim Smith’s No. 4, while raising banners to honor late, legendary head coach Rick Majerus and former athletic director Chris Hill.