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Best college basketball conferences for great NBA talent
At the end of the 2011 NBA season, there are 61 players in NBA history with career scoring averages of 20.0 points per game or better. I'm including Kevin Durant(notes) (25.9 points per game), Derrick Rose(notes) (20.9) and Blake Griffin(notes) (22.5), as well as Chris Bosh(notes) and Michael Redd(notes), who are both at 19.99 points per game.
Breaking down the 61 players with career scoring averages of 20.0 or more points per game by the colleges they attended, reveals which college basketball conferences have sent the most prolific scorers into the NBA. I used the current teams that make up each college basketball conference as a basis, even though some of the players did not play for their colleges while they were members of their current conferences.
The list is interesting to me because it contains two players who played prominently for my favorite NBA team, the New Jersey Nets, Bernard King (22.49) and Vince Carter(notes) (22.18), and two players from my favorite college team, the Syracuse Orange, Carmelo Anthony(notes) (24.84) and Dave Bing (20.34). I always find it interesting to see where the greatest NBA players come from.
Before we get to the list, an interesting bit of trivia to test your basketball knowledge. Only one college basketball program has sent three players into the NBA who are all in the top 20 in points per game average. Can you name the college and the players? (hint: it's not North Carolina, or any other ACC school).
Best College Basketball Conferences for Great NBA Talent
1. Big East - 12 players
Twelve players who played college basketball for a current Big East school, have career NBA scoring averages of 20.0 or more points per game. Included on the list are four players in the top 10 in scoring average in NBA history.
Jerry West from West Virginia has the fifth best scoring average in NBA history at 27.03, Allen Iverson(notes) from Georgetown is sixth best at 26.66, Oscar Robertson from Cincinnati is 9th at 25.68 and Dwayne Wade from Marquette is 10th at 25.43. No other conference has more than one player in the top 10.
Both Carmelo Anthony (13th) and Adrian Dantley from Notre Dame, who is 17th at 24.27 points per game, are also from Big East schools. So Big East teams have sent six of the top 20 highest scoring average players of all-time into the NBA.
Granted the Big East has 16 teams, and most of the six players never actually played in the Big East, but it still speaks to the power of the teams in the Big East today. The other six players from Big East schools are George Mikan from DePaul (23.13), Paul Arizin from Villanova (22.81), Patrick Ewing from Georgetown (20.98), Dave Bing, Ray Allen(notes) from UConn (20.22) and Mark Aguirre from DePaul (20.0).
T-2. ACC - 8 players
The ACC has sent eight players into the NBA who all have carer scoring averages of 20.0 points per game or better. Including, of course, Michael Jordan who has the highest scoring average in NBA history at 30.12 points per game. The other eight players are Rick Barry, Vince Carter, David Thompson, Bob McAdoo, Billy Cunningham, Tim Duncan(notes) and Chris Bosh.
T-2. SEC - 8 players
The eight players from the SEC are Bob Pettit, Dominique Wilkins, Pete Maravich, Shaquille O'Neal(notes), Bernard King, Charles Barkley, Alex English and Dan Issel. People think of the SEC as a football conference, but that is an impressive list of players.
4. Big Ten - 6 players
The six Big Ten players are John Havlicek, Glenn Robinson, Chris Webber, Lou Hudson, Walt Bellamy and Michael Redd.
5. Big 12 - 5 players
6. Conference USA - 4 players
The four Conference USA players are Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes from Houston, plus Derrick Rose from Memphis.
7. Pac 10 - 3 players
Hard to believe, but the Pac 10 has sent just three players to the NBA who have career scoring averages of 20.0 points per game or better. The three players are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Marques Johnson.
Five NBA players, LeBron James(notes), Kobe Bryant(notes), Moses Malone, Amare Stoudemire(notes) and Tracy McGrady(notes) all have 20.0 or higher scoring averages and never played college basketball. Dirk Nowitzki(notes) played in Germany, and the rest of the 61 players played for obscure colleges.
Trivia Answer - three players from LSU (Bob Pettit, Pistol Pete Maravich and Shaq) are all in the top 20 in scoring average in the NBA.
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