Where the NBA Players Come From

Players from Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, North Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas lead list of colleges with most former players on 2018-19 NBA Opening-Day Rosters
 

Former players from Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, North Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas are found at the top of the list of 117 Division I colleges that have one or more former players on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters, which was Tuesday, October 16, 2018. Kentucky had 31 former players on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters, Duke had 25, UCLA had 17, North Carolina had 13, and Arizona and Kansas each had 12. Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and North Carolina led all teams for six consecutive seasons with minor changes in the order until this season, which was broken with the appearance of UCLA on the list. The 31 former players Kentucky had in the NBA on 2018-19 opening-day rosters is the largest number for any college since this list was first compiled on a yearly basis over 30 years ago. Texas (10 former players) completes the list of 7 schools with 10 or more former players on NBA opening-round rosters for 2018-19, while Indiana, Michigan, Villanova, and Washington round out the top 10 with 8 former players each. The top 7 schools supply 120 players, or just over 24%, of all NBA player personnel. That is worth about 7-1/2 teams' worth of NBA players, using a 16-player active NBA roster.

Collegiate Basketball News' Jim Sukup has been tracking the origin of players on NBA opening-day rosters since the 1986-1987 season. There are four categories of players on the current list: 1) NBA players that attended Division I colleges; 2) NBA players that attended non-Division I colleges, including junior colleges; 3) NBA players that went from U.S. high schools directly to the NBA without attending college; and 4) Foreign players that had no U.S. college experience. Foreign players that played for U.S. or Canadian colleges are shown on the college list rather than on the foreign players list. That explains the discrepancy between the number of foreign players shown on this list and the larger number of "international players" that are reported by the NBA or that are found on other lists. 

It is most interesting to compare the data on the current list with the list that was compiled for the 1986-1987 season (see the January 26, 1987 issue of Basketball Weekly titled "ACC, Big Ten Most Generous with NBA", by Jim Sukup). Back then there were 23 teams in the NBA (compared with 30 today), there were a total of 301 players on NBA opening-day rosters (compared with 494 on the 2018-19 opening-day roster list), and there was no list of the number of foreign players in the league (although several foreign players on those NBA rosters had played for U.S. colleges). UCLA then headed the list of colleges with 9 former players in the NBA, and the ACC was at the top of the conferences with 34 players on the 1986-87 NBA opening-day roster list.

The ACC heads the list of conferences for the ninth consecutive year in producing the most NBA players, with 83 this season. However, that does not lead the list of conferences with the best average number of former players per conference school. That honor belongs to the Pac-12, which has 69 players on opening-day rosters for an average of 5.8 former players per conference school. The ACC is next with an average of 5.5 former players per team. Next is the SEC with 64 players and an average of 4.6 former players per team. The Big 12 is 4th with 42 former players in the NBA with an average of 4.2 former players per school, the Big East has 32 players for a 3.2 average, and the Big Ten has 39 former players in the NBA for an average of 2.8 players per school. That is followed by the American, which has 24 former players in the NBA for 2.0 players per school, and the Mountain West, which has 11 former players in the NBA for a 1.0 average. The Pac-12, Big 12, and Big East are the three conferences that have at least one former player from each member school on 2018-19 opening-day rosters. The ACC had 13 of 15 schools with former players on NBA opening-day rosters this season, SEC had 11 of 14, the Mountain West had 8 of 11, the American had 7 of 12, the Big Ten had 8 of 14, and the Atlantic 10 had 7 of 14. Rounding out the conferences that had 2 to 4 teams with former players on NBA rosters are the Missouri Valley (4 of 10 schools represented), Ohio Valley (4 of 12) and Conference USA (4 of 14); the Big West had 3 of 9 schools represented and the Patriot League 3 of 10; and the Colonial, Horizon, and West Coast each had 2 of 10 schools with former players on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters. Six conferences had 1 school with a former player representing their conference in the NBA, and 8 conferences had no former players on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters.

There were 65 foreign players on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters that did not play for U.S. colleges, or 13.2% of the NBA total. That is 8 fewer foreign players than last season. A total of 15 current NBA players went from high schools to the NBA (3.0% of the NBA total), which is up from 10 players last season. That figure includes players which did not go to college but played overseas or worked out for a year on their own before the NBA draft. Just two NBA players attended a non-Division I college. Division I colleges provide a total of 412 NBA players (83.4%). Foreign players that played at U.S. colleges are counted under the appropriate Division I school listing.  

The average NBA player at the start of the 2018-19 season was 26.13 years old, compared with 26.38 years old last season, 26.75 in 2016-17 and 26.86 in 2015-16. The average NBA player had 4.33 years of NBA experience compared to 4.37 years last season, 4.85 years in 2016-17, and 4.96 in both 2015-16 and 2014-15. Players on the Houston Rockets averaged 27.91 years of age, making them the oldest of all 30 NBA teams, and they averaged 6.44 years of NBA playing experience, which also leads this category. The New York Knicks are the youngest team in the league, averaging 24.42 years of age. Players on the Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls have an average of 2.88 years of NBA experience, the least in the league.

Young basketball players that believe they might have a long NBA career should take a look at the second-to-last table on this page because it contains some unforgiving data. This table shows the number of NBA players with the corresponding number of years of NBA experience. For example, there are 89 rookie players on opening-day rosters this season that had no NBA experience coming into this season, and they make up 18.0% of the total of the 494 NBA players on opening-day rosters. Slightly over half (266, or 53.8%) of NBA players are rookies or have only 1, 2, or 3 years of NBA playing experience, and 91.1% of NBA players have 10 or fewer years of experience. Are you convinced that you will have a long, productive NBA career? This is very unlikely because only 44 players (8.9%) on 2018-19 NBA opening-day rosters have more than 10 years of NBA experience, and only 13 have 15 or more years of NBA experience! No players have 18 or 19 years of experience this season, and 2 have 20 years of experience.

Player turnover in the NBA is always ongoing, and one only needs to look at the roster of your favorite NBA team and compare it to last year to underscore this fact. Only exceptional talent lasts in the NBA for any length of time. Two NBA players have 20 years of playing experience this season. They are Vince Carter of the Sacramento Kings and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. Who is the oldest current player in the league? Carter was born on 1/26/77 and Nowitzki on 6/19/78. They are the last remaining NBA players born in the 1970's. We salute them for their outstanding NBA longevity. Enjoy them while you can, because they will be gone sooner rather than later.

The last table on this page lists NBA coaches as of 2018-19 opening-day rosters and the colleges that they attended. There were no NBA coaching changes from the beginning of the 2016-17 season to the beginning of the 2017-18 season, while 9 teams had new coaches at the beginning the 2018-19 season. Arizona and San Diego head the list of schools providing NBA coaches, with 2 each. Note that four NBA coaches attended college at non-Division I institutions, and one, Igor Kokoskov, attended the University of Belgrade.

The following lists are based upon NBA Opening-Day rosters for the 2018-19 season, which was Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The conference list includes only current school affiliations for the 2018-19 season. Team and conference lists include players on the active NBA roster list (12 or 13 active) along with two-way players, which are players that play for both their NBA teams and their D-League affiliates. Other players may be on the inactive list, thus the average of 16.47 players per NBA team on 2018-19 opening-day rosters.

Copyright © 2018 by Collegiate Basketball News Co. All Rights Reserved.

Where Current NBA Players Come From by Division I Conference, Non-Division I College, High School, and Foreign Origin

                       # Schools W/   Players    Avg. # NBA 
Conference (# teams)    NBA Players   in NBA    Players/Team
Pacific 12 (12)             12          69          5.8
Atlantic Coast (15)         13          83          5.5
Southeastern (14)           11          64          4.6
Big 12 (10)                 10          42          4.2
Big East (10)               10          32          3.2
Big Ten (14)                 8          39          2.8
American (12)                7          24          2.0
Mountain West (11)           8          11          1.0
Atlantic 10 (14)             7          10          0.7
West Coast (10)              2           5          0.5
Big West (9)                 3           4          0.4
Ohio Valley (12)             4           5          0.4
Missouri Valley (10)         4           4          0.4
Conference USA (14)          4           5          0.4
Patriot League (10)          3           3          0.3
Western Ath. (9)             1           2          0.2
Colonial Athletic (10)       2           2          0.2
Horizon (10)                 2           2          0.2
Ivy League (8)               1           1          0.1
Big South (11)               1           1          0.1
Big Sky (11)                 1           1          0.1
Mid-Eastern (12)             1           1          0.1
Sun Belt (12)                1           1          0.1
Mid-American (12)            1           1          0.1
Southern (10)                0           0          0.0
Southwestern (10)            0           0          0.0
Southland (13)               0           0          0.0
Atlantic Sun (9)             0           0          0.0
Northeast (10)               0           0          0.0
Metro Atlantic (11)          0           0          0.0
America East (9)             0           0          0.0
Summit (8)                   0           0          0.0
                           117         412
		Non-Division I           2
		High School             15
		Foreign*                65
		Total in NBA           494
* Note: # foreign players does not include those that played for U.S. colleges


Division I Schools Ranked by Number of Players in NBA

                           No. Players
Rank School                  In NBA
   1 Kentucky                  31
   2 Duke                      25
   3 UCLA                      17
   4 North Carolina            13
   5 Arizona                   12
   5 Kansas                    12
   7 Texas                     10
   8 Indiana                    8
   8 Michigan                   8
   8 Villanova                  8
   8 Washington                 8
  12 Michigan St.               7
  12 Syracuse                   7
  14 California                 6
  14 Connecticut                6
  14 Florida                    6
  14 Louisville                 6
  14 Southern Cal               6
  14 Wake Forest                6
  20 Colorado                   5
  20 Creighton                  5
  20 Iowa St.                   5
  20 Marquette                  5
  20 Ohio St.                   5
  20 Oregon                     5
  20 Texas A&M                  5
  27 Baylor                     4
  27 Cincinnati                 4
  27 Georgetown                 4
  27 Georgia Tech               4
  27 LSU                        4
  27 Memphis                    4
  27 N.C. State                 4
  27 SMU                        4
  27 Virginia                   4
  27 Wisconsin                  4
  37 Arkansas                   3
  37 Boston College             3
  37 Florida St.                3
  37 Gonzaga                    3
  37 Kansas St.                 3
  37 Maryland                   3
  37 Miami-FL                   3
  37 Missouri                   3
  37 Notre Dame                 3
  37 Oklahoma                   3
  37 Purdue                     3
  37 Stanford                   3
  37 Tennessee                  3
  37 UNLV                       3
  37 Utah                       3
  37 Vanderbilt                 3
  37 Wichita St.                3
  37 Xavier                     3
  55 Alabama                    2
  55 Butler                     2
  55 Fresno St.                 2
  55 Georgia                    2
  55 Geo. Washington            2
  55 Houston                    2
  55 Murray St.                 2
  55 New Mexico St.             2
  55 Pittsburgh                 2
  55 Providence                 2
  55 Saint Joseph's             2
  55 South Carolina             2
  55 St. Mary's                 2
  55 Texas Tech                 2
  55 UC Santa Barbara           2
  55 VCU                        2
  55 Washington St.             2
  55 Western Kentucky           2
  73 Arizona St.                1
  73 Belmont                    1
  73 Boise St.                  1
  73 Boston U.                  1
  73 Bowling Green              1
  73 Bradley                    1
  73 Bucknell                   1
  73 Cal Poly                   1
  73 Colorado St.               1
  73 Col. Charleston            1
  73 Davidson                   1
  73 Dayton                     1
  73 DePaul                     1
  73 Green Bay                  1
  73 Harvard                    1
  73 Illinois                   1
  73 Illinois St.               1
  73 IUPUI                      1
  73 Lehigh                     1
  73 Long Beach St.             1
  73 Louisiana Tech             1
  73 Marshall                   1
  73 Missouri St.               1
  73 Morehead St.               1
  73 Nevada                     1
  73 New Mexico                 1
  73 Norfolk St.                1
  73 Northeastern               1
  73 Oklahoma St.               1
  73 Old Dominion               1
  73 Oregon St.                 1
  73 Rhode Island               1
  73 San Diego St.              1
  73 Seton Hall                 1
  73 St. Bonaventure            1
  73 St. John's                 1
  73 TCU                        1
  73 Tennessee St.              1
  73 Tulane                     1
  73 UL Lafayette               1
  73 USC Upstate                1
  73 Valparaiso                 1
  73 Weber St.                  1
  73 West Virginia              1
  73 Wyoming                    1
         Total Division I     412
         Non-Division I         2
         High School           15
         Foreign*              65
         Total In NBA, 2018   494
                Opening Day
* Note: # foreign players does not include those that played for U.S. colleges


NBA Teams Sorted by Average Experience
 
                Avg       Avg.
Team            Exp.      Age
Houston         6.44     27.91
San Antonio     5.88     27.58
Washington      5.67     27.00
Miami           5.63     27.79
Cleveland       5.50     27.54
Golden State    5.38     27.31
Toronto         5.13     26.93
Charlotte       4.88     25.93
Detroit         4.88     26.65
Dallas          4.82     27.47
Minnesota       4.75     27.01
LA Clippers     4.71     27.51
LA Lakers       4.38     25.36
Oklahoma City   4.25     25.56
Milwaukee       4.22     25.75
Memphis         4.18     26.79
Phoenix         4.06     25.12
Utah            4.00     26.48
Philadelphia    3.94     25.41
New Orleans     3.94     25.74
Indiana         3.94     25.53
Brooklyn        3.88     25.59
Portland        3.80     24.76
Atlanta         3.65     25.62
Sacramento      3.44     25.38
Boston          3.24     25.66
Orlando         3.12     25.40
New York        3.12     24.42
Chicago         2.88     24.51
Denver          2.88     24.62
 
 
 
NBA Teams Sorted by Average Age
 
                Avg.      Avg.
Team            Exp.      Age
Houston         6.44     27.91
Miami           5.63     27.79
San Antonio     5.88     27.58
Cleveland       5.50     27.54
LA Clippers     4.71     27.51
Dallas          4.82     27.47
Golden State    5.38     27.31
Minnesota       4.75     27.01
Washington      5.67     27.00
Toronto         5.13     26.93
Memphis         4.18     26.79
Detroit         4.88     26.65
Utah            4.00     26.48
Charlotte       4.88     25.93
Milwaukee       4.22     25.75
New Orleans     3.94     25.74
Boston          3.24     25.66
Atlanta         3.65     25.62
Brooklyn        3.88     25.59
Oklahoma City   4.25     25.56
Indiana         3.94     25.53
Philadelphia    3.94     25.41
Orlando         3.12     25.40
Sacramento      3.44     25.38
LA Lakers       4.38     25.36
Phoenix         4.06     25.12
Portland        3.80     24.76
Denver          2.88     24.62
Chicago         2.88     24.51
New York        3.12     24.42
 
 
Years of Experience for NBA Players

   No. Years NBA     No. NBA                   Cumulative
     Experience      Players    Percentage     Percentage
         0             89          .180           .180
         1             80          .162           .342
         2             55          .111           .453
         3             42          .085           .538
         4             35          .071           .609
         5             30          .061           .670
         6             29          .059           .729
         7             25          .051           .779
         8             21          .043           .822
         9             20          .040           .862
        10             24          .049           .911
        11              8          .016           .927
        12              9          .018           .945
        13              8          .016           .962
        14              6          .012           .974
        15              6          .012           .986
        16              1          .002           .988
        17              4          .008           .996
        18              0          .000           .996
        19              0          .000           .996
        20              2          .004          1.000
                      494

NBA Coaches and College Attended

Team              Coach             College
Atlanta           Lloyd Pierce      Santa Clara
Boston            Brad Stevens      DePauw
Brooklyn          Kenny Atkinson    Georgia Tech
Charlotte         James Borrego     San Diego
Chicago           Fred Hoiberg      Iowa State
Cleveland         Tyronn Lue        Nebraska
Dallas            Rick Carlisle     Virginia
Denver            Michael Malone    Loyola-Maryland
Detroit           Dwane Casey       Kentucky
Golden State      Steve Kerr        Arizona
Houston           Mike D'Antoni     Marshall
Indiana           Nate McMillan     North Carolina Sta
LA Clippers       Doc Rivers        Marquette
LA Lakers         Luke Walton       Arizona
Memphis           J.B. Bickerstaff  Minnesota
Miami             Erik Spoelstra    Portland
Milwaukee         Mike Budenholzer  Pomona
Minnesota         Tom Thibodeau     Salem State
New Orleans       Alvin Gentry      Appalachian State
New York          David Fizdale     San Diego
Oklahoma City     Billy Donovan     Providence
Orlando           Steve Clifford    Maine-Farmington
Philadelphia      Brett Brown       Boston University
Phoenix           Igor Kokoskov     Univ. of Belgrade
Portland          Terry Stotts      Oklahoma
Sacramento        David Joerger     North Carolina
San Antonio       Gregg Popovich    Air Force
Toronto           Nick Nurse        Northern Iowa
Utah              Quin Snyder       Duke
Washington        Scott Brooks      UC Irvine