|Six BCS schools and six small conferences have failed to get a player taken on draft night since 2002. (AP)|
In total, 117 schools have sent players to the NBA via the Draft since 2002. But what are the trends? I did the digging to find out and to figure out if certain programs' reputations about disposing players as pros to David Stern's merry band of owners was true.
What an exercise this was. Nothing teleports you into a corridor of flashbacks like seeing the names Vincent Yarbrough, Hassan Adams, Royal Ivey, Keith Bogans and the like while trolling Wikipedia on a weekday afternoon. I stumbled on things I had forgotten or never known at all, like the fact that Josh Smith and J.R. Smith were drafted back-to-back in 2004. Casual NBA fans have been mixing up the two ever since. (That '04 Draft, by the way? Has to be the heaviest infiltration of high-schoolers and European imports.)
Yeah, it was also a trip to go back to the middle of the aughts and see how rampant the foreign flavor was. For a good few years there, middle-European players became the NBA's pogs, just stacking higher their exotic collection. We'll always have anything from a sampling to a hearty bundle of Euros fluxed into the league each year, but I think the height of the fad has passed for the foreseeable future.
Before we get to the charts, a few notes about what I discovered as I began with last year's draft and worked my way back to 2002.
-- The Big Ten was behind from the get-go. It didn't crack into the double-digit-draftee column until 2008.
-- For all the great league play, memorable tournament runs and overall enjoyable hoops the league has put out, the Missouri Valley machine has Wonka'd out just three draft picks. I was genuinely stunned to find that out, and it has been the case since 1999. Doug McDermott is set to become the first Valley player drafted since Bradley's Patrick O'Bryant was taken ninth in 2006 by Golden State.
-- Another shockingly low conference output came from the MAC, which has just two. It has been draftless since '03.
-- Realignment can give us different data on which schools/leagues boast the most drafted. To make things easier, I simply went with whatever league a school is a part of as of this very day, which means I counted Missouri as Big 12, so that should equally tick off the Tigers and Jayhawks fans. The fiscal year begins July 1, and that's when Missouri, Texas A&M and West Virginia make their official, earnest transitions. But with other schools, like Utah or Colorado, I counted those programs' draft selections toward the conference they're currently part of. Fair? Not entirely. Don't question my methods.
OK, so let's look at the teams with the most NBA talent produced since 2002. I think the chart is mildly surprising. If I told you to pick the top three teams, I think it might take you eight or nine guesses before you arrived at Kansas and UCLA. Also, this does nothing but hurt Rick Barnes, right? The man has recruited more than a roster's worth of pros to Austin in a decade and has one Final Four to show for it.
The totality of teams with 10 or more draft selections in 10 years' time:
Now let's see which programs outside the cushy surroundings of the power leagues have taken in and regurgitated out. The leader is no surprise, but some of the schools behind John Calipari's former program are a bit of an eye-opener. All schools charted here are the only ones with three draft picks or more outside the BCS leagues.
Next we have the breakdown on the overall pool of college players drafted, and which conferences they came from. Twenty-five leagues have sent at least one guy to the pros in the past decade. The ones that haven't produced an NBAer on draft night: the SWAC, the Ivy League, America East, Southland, Big South, Atlantic Sun and the Patriot.
If you're curious about which of those leagues has gone the longest without having a draft selection, it's the Big South. It was founded in '83 and has never sent a feller to the Association. Also, a college hoops trivia question favorite of mine: What's the only current America East school to have a player drafted? Why, Hartford's Skinny Vin Baker, of course.
Within the Big Six, these are the schools that have been shut out of the draft since '02:
- Oregon State
- Seton Hall
- St. John's
- Penn State
And overall, this is how the BCS leagues' draftee numbers come in:
- ACC: 70
- Pac-12: 63
- Big East: 63
- SEC: 53
- Big 12: 50
- Big Ten: 34
Yeah -- huge drop-off for the Big Ten. The difference between the B1G and the Big 12 is the same as the Big Ten's chasm between No. 7 on the list, Conference USA, which has earned 18 draft night selections in 10 years. There are three other leagues in double figures: Atlantic 10 (14), WAC (13), West Coast (11).
Finally, let's run down schools whose data I found surprising. Perhaps you'll feel the same way. Or maybe not. Most of all, I'm thrilled you've stuck with me so far.
-- Baylor has ... just one. If I do this same exercise in three years, and if Scott Drew manages to stay in Waco, I get the feeling the Bears will go from the bottom of this list to the 90th percentile.
-- Ohio State with only seven draft picks. Before doing the research, I would've sworn it would be more than 10.
-- UNLV: ONE DRAFT PICK. Truly stunning, and won't stay the case with Dave Rice running the show in the desert. Can you name the pick and the year? Bet you can't. Answer at the bottom.
-- Southern California (seven) has churned out more draft picks than Michigan State (six).
-- Boston College at five is damn impressive.
-- Louisville at five is damn surprising. Tennessee with three also seems drastically low.
-- Duke and UNC outpace N.C. State four times over; the Wolfpack have given the NBA just three guys worth selecting since '02. Seems perfect.
-- Oh, stop it, State fan.
-- Indiana leveled off at four, and Michigan has only brought out two draft picks. Now you're seeing why the Big Ten pales so harshly to the rest of the big-boy leagues.
There's a bunch of other data I won't get into, like most-to-least per league and whatnot, but in general, yeah, the "right" schools are occupying the higher slots on the list and more space in the charts. Doesn't mean there aren't exceptions, though, and doesn't mean it's going to be this way. One thing to note here is, although programs in power at the college level tend to stay the same over time, schools go through waves of bringing in exceptional talent and getting it to the next level. Baylor's on the come, as stated above. Indiana's making its way back. USC? It's going to taper off for a few years, most likely. Same goes for a handful of ACC schools, and in fact, it's possible the ACC will give up its lead in pros produced within the 10-year cycle by 2014.
What can't be refuted, and what's been the case for decades: more talent seeps out from the coasts than the south or the heartland. It's the inverse of football, which is a split on sport I've always found interesting.