NBA Draft Trends: Which programs have sent the most to the pros?

It's now time to look at the NBA Draft through the purview of each conference and see how often the major leagues are sending their talent to the NBA via draft night. Which school makes up the highest percentage of their conference's draft picks in the past 15 years? (OK, it's Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC.) The lowest? There are too many to list.

The graph above shows the percentage of picks from the draft in the past 15 years. That's 885 choices, with the 40-or-so picks  straight out of high school included (though not in the chart). As you can see, teams designated "nonmajor" (every conference except the ones noted elsewhere in the pie chart) have been selected most, barely edging out the foreign contingent. We'll have more on the foreign and nonmajors later this week.


-- Western Conference teams' draft selections since 1998
-- Eastern Conference teams' draft selections since 1998
-- Stacking the overall trends from major conferences in college hoops

But let's look at the biggest NBA factories in recent times.

Who's sent the most to the pros in 15 years? The top 10:

  1. Kentucky (23)

  2. Duke Blue Devils (23)

  3. Kansas Jayhawks (21)

  4. North Carolina Tar Heels (21)

  5. UCLA Bruins (21)

  6. Arizona Wildcats (19)

  7. Connecticut Huskies (18)

  8. Texas Longhorns (16)

  9. Florida Gators (15)

  10. Syracuse Orange (13)

And now let's take a look at each conference. To my surprise, every school from a major conference has sent at least one player to the pros via the draft since 1998. I also must note that in instances of realignment, conferences were only credited draft picks from schools when those schools were officially members of the conference. So, for example, Louisville Cardinals had some picks that were credited "nonmajor" back when the Cards were playing in C-USA.


Maryland Terrapins had its share of pros in the middle part of this 15-year span. You see Boston College Eagles had four picks since it came over from the Big East. Florida State Seminoles 's nine was higher than I expected, while Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 's 11 reminded me of how much talent Paul Hewitt got to Atlanta -- without much to show for it.


This is basically the Pac-10, as Colorado Buffaloes and Utah Utes haven't produced pros in the short time since they joined the conference. Would you have guessed Stanford Cardinal would produce the fourth-most draft picks in this conference? You can thank Ben Howland for getting UCLA near the top; I thought Arizona would've been the highest in this league. Washington State Cougars has just one, but he's been huge: Klay Thompson.

Big East

You had to know UConn and Syracuse would be at the top of this. Notice former member Miami had two before it went to the ACC. Louisville's smushed in there with just two picks as well, which I find surprising as anything. Since joining the Big East together, the Cards and DePaul Blue Demons have the same amount of draft picks. That should change next month, though. Overall, when you look at the teams on this list, does it seem like the Big East is underperforming a little bit?


Kentucky saves the day, basically. Were it not for John Calipari, Florida would top this list. LSU Tigers being third will surprise those who forget that LSU is actually, probably, the biggest sleeping giant in major-conference college basketball. With the right coach to bring in the talent that's in that area, LSU can be consistently really good. It just cares so much more about football, and rightfully so. Speaking of can-be-better programs, Hog fans have to be gritting their teeth over the fact Mississippi State Bulldogs basketball has twice as many draft picks in 15 years as the Razorbacks.

Big 12

Kansas. Texas. Then everybody else. And it doesn't help matters that No. 3 on this list is a program no longer in the conference. Baylor Bears 's just now up and coming. Colorado and A&M are also now out of the fold. It's a big year ahead for Rick Barnes; Texas' momentum in recruiting has tapered in recent years, too.

Big Ten

Lower numbers abound for the Big Ten, which, nevertheless, has managed a draft pick from every team since 1998. Michigan Wolverines 's number is low, and Indiana Hoosiers only at seven is also smaller than expected, but that number will double in the next five years, I'd expect. The race between the Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans could get interesting. In general the Big Ten should be producing more draft picks than four per year, essentially.

Coming Wednesday: Where are all the foreign players coming from? Mapping out the origin of the overseas boom.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories