Kentucky coach John Calipari has yet another recruiting tool at his disposal this winter.
He can tell prospects that his program has produced more players on opening day NBA rosters than any other school.
Five of the seven Kentucky players who left school early last spring survived final cuts on Monday, increasing the number of ex-Wildcats in the NBA to 21. Kansas is second with 19, followed by Duke (18), North Carolina (15), UCLA (14) and Arizona (13).
While the presence of so many of college basketball's juggernauts on that list is hardly shocking, there were some surprises from my analysis of this year's NBA opening day rosters. Here are a few notable stats:
Colleges that produced the most NBA players on opening day rosters: Kentucky (21), Kansas (19), Duke (18), North Carolina (15), UCLA (14), Arizona (13), Florida (10), Syracuse (8), Texas (8), Washington (8).
Comment: The majority of these programs are the ones you'd expect to find. Five of the top seven have captured national championships in the past decade, while UCLA has been to three Final Fours in that span and Arizona has reemerged as the dominant program in the West. The only outlier is Washington, which has reached the Sweet 16 three times under Lorenzo Romar but hasn't won at the level the other top 10 schools have.
Power-five conference programs that don't have any NBA players on opening day rosters: Auburn, Florida State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas Tech, TCU, West Virginia.
Comment: To me, there are two surprises here. 1. That as many as 13 power-five programs don't have a current NBA player. 2. That Florida State, Iowa State and West Virginia are among them. The Cyclones have gone to the NCAA tournament the past four years and boast a preseason top 10 team this year. The Noles and Mountaineers may be primarily football schools, but Florida State made four straight NCAA tournaments from 2009-2012 and West Virginia has reached five Sweet 16s and a Final Four since 2005.
Programs that have won the most without producing many NBA players: Louisville (4), Pittsburgh (3), Baylor (2), Butler (2), Gonzaga (2), San Diego State (1) Cincinnati (1), Oklahoma (1), VCU (1), Wichita State (1), West Virginia (0), Florida State (0)
Comment: Louisville is included in this group only because it has produced surprisingly few NBA players given its stature in the sport. No other program that has won a championship since 2002 has fewer than seven current NBA players, and most are well into double figures. The rest of this group are programs that have won league titles or made deep NCAA tournament runs without the luxury of rosters stacked with future NBA players.
Programs that have won the least despite producing many NBA players: Washington (8), Georgia Tech (6), USC (6), LSU (6), Wake Forest (6), Arkansas (5)
Comment: Was I the only one shocked that Georgia Tech, a program with one NCAA tournament win in the past decade, has produced six* current NBA players? That's more than Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State and Villanova. The totals for Washington, USC and LSU were also surprising, however, at least those programs have enjoyed sporadic recent success. The Huskies reached three Sweet 16s before their program got off course the past few years, while USC was a consistent NCAA tournament participant under Tim Floyd and LSU made a Final Four as recently as 2006.
*(I previously had Georgia Tech producing seven NBA players instead of six because I misread Will Barton as Will Bynum)
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