Elijah Bryant earned First-Team All-WCC honors during the 2017-2018 season with the BYU Cougars, his last campaign in Provo. Following that season, he left the Cougars to try his hand at professional basketball.
The Georgia native went undrafted in the 2018 NBA draft and then signed with Hapoel Eilat of the Israeli Premier League. He finished that season as the IPL’s fourth-best scorer.
Before signing a two-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he spent the summer as part of the Milwaukee Bucks’ summer league roster in 2019. This opened the door for the Bucks to sign him to a contract in May of 2021 to help the Bucks down the stretch towards an NBA title.
He appeared in one regular season game for the Bucks before the postseason began, on May 16. In a solid NBA debut, he collected 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in just over 31 minutes.
Over the course of the 2021 NBA playoffs, Bryant appeared in 11 games for Milwaukee, totaling 49 minutes. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets, Bryant notched six points in nine minutes.
He appeared in one game during the NBA Finals against the Suns.
Thanks to the heroics from finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who amassed a whopping 50 points and 14 rebounds in the championship-clinching Game 6 on Tuesday night, the Bucks, and Bryant won the NBA title.
Bryant earns an NBA ring as part of the Bucks’ roster and for his contributions off the bench.
Several BYU players have played in the NBA recently but none have won an NBA title. In fact, no former BYU Cougar has donned a championship ring in the NBA as a player in almost 40 years.
The 1986 Boston Celtics went 67-15 on their way to an NBA title. Of course, they had stars like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton, but they also had not one, but two BYU alums on their roster. Danny Ainge appeared in 80 games for Boston and Greg Kite played in 64.
Ainge averaged 10.7 points and 5.1 assists over that season. Kite checked in with 1.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
At BYU, Ainge won the John Wooden Award in 1981. The towering 6-foot-11 Kite was a sophomore during that magical season for the Cougars in which they made it to the Elite Eight.
It had been 35 years since a former BYU basketball player won an NBA title as a player (Ainge has since won another title with Boston as an executive in 2008). Bryant ended the drought on Tuesday night as the Bucks won their first title in 50 years.