Which Colleges Produce the Best Pros?
By Kevin Duffy
[img_assist|nid=3806|title=Rip Hamilton|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=320|height=260]With the Draft less than a week away, it's crunch time for NBA executives. Doing the proper research and evaluating can make or break a team's draft. And one draft can make or break a team's future. Because of the draft's importance, teams will consider a lot of factors before choosing a player on June 28th, one of which being the college that the player attended. Some programs are notorious for churning out NBA talent, while some big-name college teams, despite great success at the NCAA level, do not produce many good pros. Here is a look at the top NBA-talent producing colleges over the past ten drafts, and then a few more basketball factories not included in the list.
1. UConn- Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler, Richard Hamilton, Rudy Gay, Charlie Villanueva, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong and Jake Voshkul all play in the league right now. Out of that group, there are four All-Stars and at least three more with potential to be. Not to mention Travis Knight, Khalid El-Amin, and Doron Sheffer had stints in the NBA and recent graduate Denham Brown was drafted and could end up on a roster sometime soon.
This Year: Jim Calhoun is maybe the best coach in the business at preparing players for the next level. Another year learning under him should be great for 7-3 Tanzanian C Hasheem Thabeet. So with no other options, scouts are hot on the trail of UConn's lone senior, walk-on SG Marty Gagne, who could go mid-first round after some GM's read this article.
2. Arizona- Lute Olsen is as good as any coach at grooming his players for the NBA. In the last ten years, Zona has produced stars such as Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Richard Jefferson, and Andre Iguodala. Luke Walton, Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, and Hassan Adams all show potential (OK, none of them show potential but they are young and at least on a roster). Michael Dickerson was a solid scorer with the Grizzlies until severe hamstring and groin injuries forced him to retire.
This Year: Marcus Williams is not ready for the NBA. He could use some more time in Tucson to work on his jumpshot, and because of that, projects as a late-first, early second round pick.
3. Duke- The Blue Devils are starting to debunk the myth that their university produces flops in the NBA. Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Corey Maggette and Luol Deng have proved to be stars, while Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy, Chris Duhon, and Dahntay Jones have stuck as role players. The careers of JJ Redick, Sheldon Williams, and Daniel Ewing are too young to tell, and somehow Shavlik Randolph made the 76ers.
This Year: Josh McRoberts may not be ready, but he'll find a spot in the first round.
4. Wake Forest- The Demon Deacons don't show the depth of the other two teams, but with two All-Stars in Chris Paul and Josh Howard, the best PF of all-time in Tim Duncan, and Lithuania's own Darius Songaila, it's hard to keep Wake out of the Top 5.
This Year: Kyle Visser is a big body that should come off the board early in the second round and give an NBA team a solid back-up at center.
5. North Carolina- Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison are the real deal, but other than that UNC does not have a great deal of star power in the NBA. Marvin Williams, Sean May, and Ray Felton have shown potential, while Rashad McCants has struggled in his first two seasons. The Heels also boast a few role players in Jeff McInnis, Brendan Haywood, and David Noel. Had this list covered the last 11 drafts, UNC would be a lot higher because Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse both were drafted in 1995.
This Year: Brandan Wright is not very polished, but he will almost certainly go in the Top 5 or 6, so his decision to leave was a no-brainer. One player not getting a lot of attention is UNC senior SF Reyshawn Terry, who could sneak into the end of the first-round because he can defend and has an NBA-ready body. He could be a real sleeper in this year's draft.
6. Kansas- Paul Pierce is the only true star that Kansas has produced in the past decade. Kirk Hinrich and Drew Gooden are above-average players. Scot Pollard was one of the better centers in the league at one point, while young big men Wayne Simien and Nick Collison will probably be nothing more than career back-ups. Jacque Vaughn continues to pay his salary to David Stern under the table to allow his career to continue.
This Year: Julian Wright is a versatile combo forward that figures to add to Kansas' already stellar collection of NBA Players.
7. Georgia Tech- Stephon Marbury and Chris Bosh are the best Yellow Jackets, followed by Matt Harpring and Jarrett Jack. Dion Glover enjoyed a brief stint in the league, as did Jason Collier, the former Atlanta Hawks center who passed away from a heart attack last offseason.
This Year: Two freshmen, Thaddeus Young and Jarvaris Crittenton, are quickly rising up draft boards, and though each could have used another year of school, they both have the potential to shoot Georgia Tech into the Top 5 of this list.
8. Michigan State- Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph didn't spend much time in a State uniform, but they are the best Spartans in the NBA. Morris Peterson has stuck as a long-range shooter, and the rookie tandem Shannon Brown and Maurice Ager flashed a lot of potential in limited playing time.
This Year: State had no seniors on last year's team, and no one who entered the draft early. Though they are a gritty team, the Spartans don't have the NBA-talent that they used to in past years.
9. Kentucky- The Late 90's produced great depth in Antione Walker, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Derek Anderson, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed, and Scott Padgett. Since then, Tayshaun Prince has been the lone standout, while Rajon Rondo, Chuck Hayes, Randolph Morris, and Keith Bogans all are still working their way into their respective rotations. However, the Wildcats are lucky to boast the worst All-Star in the history of sports, C Jamaal Magloire.
This Year: Randolph Morris entered the NBA a few months ago in the sketchiest way possible, but this year the Wildcats probably won't have anyone drafted.
10. Syracuse- Carmelo Anthony is the only thing keeping the Orange on this list. Hakim Warrick, Etan Thomas, and Jason Hart all play, and John Wallace, well, at least he got drafted.
This Year: Sharp-shooting swingman Demetrius Nichols is likely go somewhere between early and mid second round. Big men Daryl Watkins and Terence Roberts are physically imposing, but lack the skills to contribute on an NBA team.
Other Basketball Factories (Not Just Colleges):
The Good: Benneton Treviso (Italy)
This Italian club team was the starting place for Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Andrea Barngani, Jose Garbajosa, and Bostjan Nachbar. Obviously, the latter three are now in the NBA, while Tskitishvilli is pleading with Benneton Treviso to let him back on the team.
This Year: No one in the draft. Former Gonzaga and Portland Trail Blazer SG Richie Frahm is a notable member of this years Treviso squad.
The Bad: UCLA
Aside from Baron Davis, the alumni in the NBA representing the most storied college program ever goes something like this: Jelani McCoy, JR Henderson, Jerome Moiso, Earl Watson, Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, Dan Gadzuric, Cedric Bozeman, and Dijon Thompson. But with two straight Final Four appearances, the Bruins appear to be building a powerhouse down in Southern California with Ben Howland so this should change in time.
This Year: Aaron Afflalo, a 1st team All-American last season, is looking like a late first to early second round pick.
The Ugly: Stanford
We stay in the Pac-10 for this group of ballers, which is comprised of Casey Jacobsen, Curtis Borchardt, Brevin Knight, Josh Childress, Jason Collins, Jarron Collins, and Tim Young. No wonder the Stanford mascot drinks during the home games.
This Year: The Cardinal were young last year and it showed in a blowout first round loss at the hands of Louisville. None of their seniors (Carlton Weatherby, Fred Washington, and Chris Bobel) have a chance to be drafted.
The Unlucky: Memphis
If one team has been hurt by the early entry rules, it's Memphis. John Callipari has seen Amare Stoudamire, Kendrick Perkins, and Qyntel Woods forgo their commitments and enter the NBA Draft before stepping foot on campus, while Dajuan Wager, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams didn't exactly get cozy in their dorms before deciding to go pro.
This Year: Three-point specialist Jeremy Hunt got to Oralndofor the predraft camp, but few expect to see him drafted, but Memphis will make a real contribution to the NBA next year, when incoming freshman Derrick Rose is expected to be a top pick. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier, and Joey Dorsey are three other Tigers that could have an NBA career in the near future.
The French: Pau Orthez (France)
Pau Orthez, a French club team, has seen Boris Diaw, Johan Petro, and Mickeal Pietrus move onto the NBA in recent years.
This Year: No one from Pau Orthez is in the draft this year, but former college stars, Utah's Britton Johnson and Arizona's Michael Wright, are notable members of the current team.
The Powerhouse: Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
Oak Hill must have some wild alumni games. Carmelo Anthony, Steve Blake, DaSanga Diop, Josh Smith, Ron Mercer, Jerry Stackhouse, Jeff McInnis, Stephen Jackson, Rajon Rondo, Marcus Williams, William Avery all are Oak Hill grads, while current UNC PG Ty Lawson also earned his high school diploma while playing for Coach Steve Smith and the Warriors. Kevin Durant attended the school but graduated from Montrose Christian HS in Maryland.
This Year: PG Brandon Jennings, who has given a verbal commitment to Arizona, is ranked as one of the Top prospects of 2008. Expect him to add to the long list of successful point guards to come out of Oak Hill.
The High Schools (besides Oak Hill): Willowridge HS (Sugarland, TX)
Current NBA guards TJ Ford and Daniel Ewing were high school teammates at Willowridge. Former Oklahoma State F Ivan McFarlin also was a graduate of Willowridge, a school that has football tradition as well. Thurman Thomas and current Atlanta Falcon CB Jason Webster were both Willowridge HS grads.
Compton Dominguez HS (Compton, CA)
In 1998, Compton Dominguez featured a team anchored by senior McDonald's All-American Tayshaun Prince and a 6-11 freshman center named Tyson Chandler.
Simon Gratz (Philadelphia, PA)
Similar to Compton Dominguez, the 1989-1990 Simon Gratz Bulldogs featured a tandem of senior guard Aaron McKie and freshman forward Rasheed Wallace. Current New York Knicks guard Mardy Collins also is a graduate of Simon Gratz.