For the best high school basketball players in the country, choosing a college pretty much boils down to two questions. First, which school gives me the best chance to win a national championship? Second, which school will best help me get to the NBA? After years of watching the game, we believe the answer to question No. 1 is relatively self-explanatory. While the NCAA tournament is always full of madness, it feels like the same programs continue to cut down the nets year after year. As for the second question, thanks to hardcore tracking, we have a concrete handle on that one as well.
Based on the data collected by Collegiate Basketball News (which we first came across via Business Insider), we learned that 111 Division 1 schools had at least one player on the opening-day rosters for the 2015-16 NBA season. Of course, as you might expect, some schools led the way. And while the names may not shock you, perhaps the numbers will. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five schools with the most players in the NBA.
Current NBA players: 14
The UCLA Bruins may not be winning national titles like they did in the ’60s and ’70s, but the Pac-12 powerhouse still sends its fair share of players to the NBA. According to the data provided by Collegiate Basketball News, the Bruins had 14 former players on NBA rosters at the start of the 2015-16 season, good for fifth-best out of all Division 1 programs. It’s a shame they can’t all turn out to be as dominant as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.
4. North Carolina
Current NBA players: 16
For the ninth time in school history (an NCAA record), the North Carolina Tar Heels entered the season as the No. 1 team in the AP preseason Top 25. Aside from that being one of the many reasons why top high school recruits flock to Chapel Hill to play college ball, UNC is also known for sending its players to the game’s highest level. Whether we’re talking about Harrison Barnes (No. 40 pictured above) doing work with the Golden State Warriors or Danny Green lighting it up from three for the San Antonio Spurs, 16 former Tar Heels started the 2015-16 season on NBA rosters. We have a feeling that number will only grow come next year.
Current NBA players: 18
As three of the players pictured above — Justice Winslow (No. 12), Tyus Jones (No. 5), and Jahlil Okafor (No. 15) — quickly found out, playing for the Duke Blue Devils can make all your dreams come true. Not only do you get the opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in the business, Mike Krzyzewski, but you also have a good chance of cutting down the nets at the end of the year. Oh, and who could forget about the direct pipeline to the NBA? At the start of the 2015-16 season, 18 former Dukies found themselves on rosters in the NBA. Of course, let’s be honest, this university’s resume will look even more impressive once point guard Kyrie Irving makes his anticipated return to the hardwood.
Current NBA players: 19
Head coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks do much more than simply dominant the Big 12 Conference. This blue blood program also sends a boatload of talent to the National Basketball Association. In fact, at the start of this season, 19 former Jayhawks had earned roster spots in the NBA. Is it any wonder that Andrew Wiggins (pictured above) — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft — opted to spend his lone collegiate season in Lawrence? We think not.
Current NBA players: 21
What a shocker. When it comes to coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats, assembling the kind of talent that wins national titles is simply par for the course. However, the true goal of this program is to create an environment that provides the perfect springboard to the NBA. Whether it’s guards like John Wall (pictured above), Eric Bledsoe, and Brandon Knight or bigs such as Karl-Anthony Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the NBA is littered with more former Kentucky standouts — 21 — than any other Division 1 school in the country.