Which Colleges Have Had The Most NBA Players?
Every year, college basketball continues to become more competitive, making it harder for programs to stay among the top teams. However, a small class of programs have kept themselves among the best schools in terms of NBA talent development. Let’s find out which colleges have had the most players go on to play in the NBA.
Schools With the Most NBA Players in Their History
- Kentucky - 119 players
- UCLA - 99 players
- Duke - 97 players
- North Carolina - 94 players
- Kansas - 77 players
- Indiana - 68 players
- Arizona - 63 players
- Louisville - 61 players
- Notre Dame - 57 players
- St. Johns - 54 players
The University of Kentucky leads the way in producing NBA talent, with 119 players throughout its history going to the NBA. Throughout its history, the Kentucky Wildcats have had some golden generations who, thanks to coaches like Rick Pitino and John Calipari, turned into championships and draft picks. Among them are “The Untouchables,” the 1995-96 team that included future NBA Champions like Derek Anderson and Antoine Walker or the “Draft Cats” in 2009-10, which produced five first-round selections with John Wall being the first overall pick in that draft.
The winningest school in the history of men’s college basketball, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), has produced 99 NBA future players. Despite a championship drought that lasts since 1995, the UCLA men’s basketball program keeps on producing NBA players, with the most recent draftee being Peyton Watson with the thirtieth pick in 2022. The list of the best Bruins in the history of the NBA include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller, Bill Walton and Russell Westbrook.
The Duke Blue Devils have had the third most former-players move on to the NBA, with 97 players. During the Mike Krzyzewski tenure at Duke, some all-time NBA greats have come out of Durham, including Grant Hill, Kyrie Irving, and Elton Brand. In recent years, Coach K has been able to turn many of his starts into NBA draftees, having multiple players picked in the first round in most of the drafts in the 2010s. Among those classes, the one of 2019 will always go down in history, as Duke had three players selected in the top ten.
The University of North Carolina follows Duke, having produced 94 NBA players. The Tar Heels are the third winningest program in the history of NCAA Division I Men's Basketball with six national championships, with the most recent one coming in 2017. The school has had countless NBA talent, including Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo, and Vince Carter. Some of the most recent Tar Heels to be drafted in the NBA are point guards Cole Anthony and Coby White.
2022 National Champion University of Kansas are ranked number five in this list with 77 alumni having played in the NBA. Some of the greatest NBA players that have worn the Jayhawk crimson and blue include Paul Pierce, Wilt Chamberlain, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins. Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun are the latest Jayhawk graduates to be drafted in the NBA.
The Indiana Hoosiers have had 68 of their former players in the NBA. The Hoosiers are among the greatest programs in the history of men’s college basketball and dominated the scene in the 70s and 80s, winning three of their five championships between 1976 and 1981. Some of the greatest Hoosiers in the history of the NBA are Isiah Thomas, Victor Oladipo, Walt Bellamy, and Eric Gordon, while the last player to be drafted from Indiana is San Antonio Spurs guard Romeo Langford.
The Arizona Wildcats have produced 63 NBA players in their program history. The school has appeared four times in the Final Four, winning the national championship in 1997 led by NBA greats like Mike Bibby and Jason Terry. Throughout the years, the Wildcats have produced players like Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Deandre Ayton, and Aaron Gordon. The last Arizona alums to be drafted in the NBA are Benedict Mathurin, Dalen Terry, and Christian Koloko, who were all selected in 2022.
In over 75 seasons of the NBA, the University of Louisville has sent 61 players to the league. Donovan Mitchell, Wes Unseld, Terry Rozier, and Darrell Griffith are some of the notable Louisville alumni in the history of the NBA, while David Johnson is the last one to be drafted in the NBA, being selected in the second round in 2021.
Notre Dame has had 57 players become NBA athletes after attending the university. All-time greats like Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley, and Austin Carr have all shined at Notre Dame before going to the NBA.
St. Johns closes out the top ten NBA-player-producing basketball programs, with 54 players having gone on to play in the NBA. St Johns has been the alma mater to many former NBA all stars, including Ron Sandiford-Artest, Mark Jackson, and Chris Mullin, while the latest Johnny to make it to the NBA is Philadelphia 76ers’ player Julian Champagnie.
Which college has produced the most NBA players?
The University of Kentucky is the school that has had the most NBA players, having produced 119 players that ended up playing in the NBA. Some of the former Wildcats that have made their mark in the NBA include Anthony Davis, Antoine Walker, John Wall, Rajon Rondo, and Karl-Anthony Towns.