These College Produce the Most Successful NBA Players

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Updated: Jul 13, 2019 8:03 pm

College basketball season has come and gone, but these athletes realistically never have an off-season. They train year round to perfect their free throws and three-pointers in hopes of becoming the next NBA star. For the select few that are talented enough for this dream to become a reality, they will one day participate in the NBA draft and strive for a long and prosperous career. 

But before they get there, they most go through the college recruitment process forcing them to juggle academics and athletics while being put to the test in the NCAA tournament in March. This process is essential to an athlete’s success – their college career can make or break their professional performance. 

Some schools simply dominate the college-level basketball scene – the North Carolina Tar Heels, Kentucky Wildcats, UCLA Bruins, and Duke Blue Devils to name a few. But does this university level dominance translate to the NBA? 

A recent study by GCU set out to investigate this by evaluating the number of NBA athletes produced by each university as well as the average length of their career. While some of the leading universities should come as no-surprise, there are some curveballs in colleges with the highest performing professional basketball stars. 

Unsurprisingly, the University of Kentucky has produced the most NBA players of all time – 107 to be exact. With eight national titles, this university clearly has no problem attracting basketball talent. Other universities close behind are UCLA and UNC, each with over 90 alumni NBA appearances. 

Some more random colleges lead the list of length of player’s NBA careers. In fact, the top three are much more well known for their football program (though this list may be enough to prove that they are not just ‘football schools’): Clemson University, the University of Alabama, and Auburn University. Notably, none of these universities have earned an NCAA championship title in their school’s history. 

Perhaps their length of career reflects their inability to retire earlier like some of the more successful athletes may be able to, or maybe they just don’t get as burnt out in college as the more competitive universities. Either way, these college’s players average upwards of seven years in the NBA, so they don’t have too much to complain about. 

Given that the average NBA player makes approximately $3 million annually, no matter how long their career lasts anyone that is drafted is certainly well-off financially. The league’s most successful players like Kobe Bryant can make over $25 million in one season, proving the payout in this industry can be extremely high with talent and a little bit of luck. 

Playing in the NBA is a dream of so many rookie basketball players across the globe. That’s why so many athletes leave their college after just one year of education to pursue a professional career. If players are lucky enough to earn a spot in the league, it’s worth the risk of leaving their alma mater a little prematurely, no matter how much school spirit and support they have.


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