Where the NBA Players Come From

For the 6th consecutive season, players from Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina are the colleges with the most former players on 2017-18 NBA Opening-Day Rosters
 

Just like the past five seasons, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and North Carolina top the list of 117 Division I colleges that have one or more former players on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters, which was Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Kentucky had 27 former players on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters, Duke had 20, and Kansas and North Carolina each had 16. These four teams have led all other teams for six consecutive seasons with minor changes in the order of the teams. The 27 former players Kentucky had in the NBA on 2017-18 opening-day rosters is the largest number for any college since we began compiling this list on a yearly basis over 30 years ago. UCLA (15), and Arizona (12) complete the schools with double-digit numbers of former players on NBA opening-round rosters for 2017-18. Florida, Syracuse, and Texas (9 players each) and Indiana, Marquette, Michigan State, and Washington (8 players each) complete the list of the top 10 schools, including ties, with the most former players in the NBA. The top four schools supply about 16% of all NBA teams and nearly 5 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. 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 quite 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 491 on the 2017-18 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 eighth consecutive year in producing the most NBA players, with 89 this season. That is an average of 5.9 former players per school, which also tops that category. The Pac-12 is next with 70 players and an average of 5.8 former players per team. Next is the SEC with 58 players and an average of slightly over 4.1 former players per team. The Big 12 is 4th with 33 former players in the NBA with an average of 4.1 former players per school, the Big East has 30 players for a 3.0 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 18 former players in the NBA for 1.5 players per school, and the Mountain West, which has 14 former players in the NBA for a 1.3 average. The ACC, Pac-12, and Big East are the three conferences that have at least one former player from each member school on 2017-18 opening-day rosters. The SEC had 11 of 14 schools with former players on NBA opening-day rosters this season, the Big 12 had 7 of 10, the Big Ten had 9 of 14, the Mountain West had 7 of 11, and the American had 7 of 12. Rounding out the conferences that had 3 to 5 teams with former players on NBA rosters are the Big West, with 4 of 9 schools represented, the Atlantic 10 and Conference USA, both with 5 of 14, the Ohio Valley, with 4 of 12 schools represented, the Horizon and Patriot, both with 3 of 10, and the Big Sky, with 2 of 12 schools with former players on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters. Eleven conferences had 1 school with a former player representing their conference in the NBA, and 5 conferences had no former players on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters.

There were 74 foreign players on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters that did not play for U.S. colleges, or 15.1% of the NBA total. That is two fewer foreign players than last season. A total of 10 current NBA players went straight from U.S. high schools to the NBA (2.0% of the NBA total), which is down from 12 players last season. Just two players attended a non-Division I college. Division I colleges provide a total of 405 NBA players (82.5%). 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 2017-18 season was 26.38 years old, compared with 26.75 years old last season and 26.86 in 2015-16. The average NBA player had 4.37 years of NBA experience compared to 4.85 years last season and 4.96 in both 2015-16 and 2014-15. Players on the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 29.95 years of age, making them the oldest of all 30 NBA teams, and they averaged 8.00 years of NBA playing experience, which also leads this category. The Chicago Bulls are the youngest team in the league, averaging 24.51 years of age, and they also have an average of 2.18 years of 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 sobering data. This table shows the number of NBA players with the corresponding number of years of NBA experience. For example, there are 95 rookie players on opening-day rosters this season that had no NBA experience coming into this season, and they make up 19.3% of the total number of the 491 NBA players on opening-day rosters. Slightly over half (264, or 53.8%) of NBA players are rookies or have only 1, 2, or 3 years of NBA playing experience. Are you convinced that you will have a long, productive NBA career? This is very unlikely because only 60 players (12.2%) on 2017-18 NBA opening-day rosters have more than 10 years of NBA experience, and only 11 have 15 or more years of NBA 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. Three NBA players this season have either 18 or 19 years of playing experience this season. Jason Terry of the Milwaukee Bucks has 18 years of experience and Vince Carter of the Sacramento Kings and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks both have 19 years of NBA experience. Who is the oldest current player in the league? Three players on NBA opening-day rosters were born in 1977: Vince Carter was born on 1/26/77, who is a bit older than Manu Ginobli (7/28/77) and Jason Terry (9/15/77). Our tip of the hat this year goes to these players for their outstanding NBA longevity. Enjoy them while you can, because they will be gone before you know it.

The last table on this page lists NBA coaches as of 2017-18 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. Twelve teams had new coaches at the beginning of last season compared to the beginning of the 2015-16 season. Arizona, Iowa State and Kentucky head the list of schools providing NBA coaches, with 2 each. It's interesting that 5 NBA coaches attended college at non-Division I institutions.

The following lists are based upon NBA Opening-Day rosters for the 2017-18 season, which was Tuesday, October 17, 2017. The conference list includes only current school affiliations for the 2017-18 season. Team and conference lists include players on the active NBA roster list (12 active and 1 inactive players are allowed per NBA team, but other players may be on the inactive list, thus the average of 16.36 players per NBA team on 2017-18 opening-day rosters).

Copyright © 2017 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
Atlantic Coast (15)         15          89         5.9
Pacific 12 (12)             12          70         5.8
Southeastern (14)           11          58         4.1
Big 12 (10)                  7          41         4.1
Big East (10)               10          30         3.0
Big Ten (14)                 9          39         2.8
American (12)                7          18         1.5
Mountain West (11)           7          14         1.3
Atlantic 10 (14)             5           8         0.6
West Coast (10)              2           5         0.5
Big West (9)                 4           4         0.4
Conference USA (14)          5           6         0.4
Ohio Valley (12)             4           4         0.3
Horizon (10)                 3           3         0.3
Patriot (10)                 3           3         0.3
Big Sky (12)                 2           2         0.2
Atlantic Sun (8)             1           1         0.1
Ivy League (8)               1           1         0.1
Summit (8)                   1           1         0.1
Western Athletic (8)         1           1         0.1
Big South (10)               1           1         0.1
Colonial (10)                1           1         0.1
Missouri Valley (10)         1           1         0.1
Mid-American (12)            1           1         0.1
Sun Belt (12)                1           1         0.1
Mid-Eastern (13)             1           1         0.1
Southland (13)               1           1         0.1
America East (9)             0           0         0.0
Metro Atlantic (11)          0           0         0.0
Northeast (10)               0           0         0.0
Southern (10)                0           0         0.0
Southwestern (10)            0           0         0.0
Total Division I           117         405
                   Non-Division          2
                   High School          10
                   Foreign*             74
                   Total in NBA        491
* 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                  27
   2 Duke                      20
   3 Kansas                    16
   3 North Carolina            16
   5 UCLA                      15
   6 Arizona                   12
   7 Florida                    9
   7 Syracuse                   9
   7 Texas                      9
  10 Indiana                    8
  10 Marquette                  8
  10 Michigan St.               8
  10 Washington                 8
  14 Michigan                   7
  15 Connecticut                6
  15 Louisiana St.              6
  15 Louisville                 6
  15 Oregon                     6
  15 Stanford                   6
  15 Wake Forest                6
  21 Baylor                     5
  21 California                 5
  21 Georgia Tech               5
  21 Southern California        5
  21 Villanova                  5
  26 Colorado                   4
  26 Creighton                  4
  26 Florida State              4
  26 Kansas State               4
  26 North Carolina St.         4
  26 Notre Dame                 4
  26 Ohio St.                   4
  26 UNLV                       4
  26 Utah                       4
  26 Virginia                   4
  26 Wisconsin                  4
  37 Arkansas                   3
  37 Georgetown                 3
  37 Gonzaga                    3
  37 Memphis                    3
  37 Miami-FL                   3
  37 Nevada                     3
  37 Oklahoma St.               3
  37 Pittsburgh                 3
  37 Purdue                     3
  37 Saint Joseph's             3
  37 Texas A&M                  3
  37 Xavier                     3
  49 Arizona St.                2
  49 Boston College             2
  49 Butler                     2
  49 Cincinnati                 2
  49 Clemson                    2
  49 Colorado State             2
  49 Fresno State               2
  49 Georgia                    2
  49 Houston                    2
  49 Illinois                   2
  49 Iowa State                 2
  49 Maryland                   2
  49 Missouri                   2
  49 Oklahoma                   2
  49 Saint Mary's (CA)          2
  49 SMU                        2
  49 St. John's (NY)            2
  49 Tennessee                  2
  49 UTEP                       2
  49 Vanderbilt                 2
  49 Virginia Commonwealth      2
  49 Washington St.             2
  49 Wichita St.                2
  72 Alabama                    1
  72 Belmont                    1
  72 Boston U.                  1
  72 Bowling Green              1
  72 Bucknell                   1
  72 Cal Poly                   1
  72 Campbell                   1
  72 Central Florida            1
  72 CS Fullerton               1
  72 Davidson                   1
  72 Dayton                     1
  72 DePaul                     1
  72 Eastern Washington         1
  72 Harvard                    1
  72 Holy Cross                 1
  72 IUPUI                      1
  72 Lamar                      1
  72 Long Beach State           1
  72 Louisiana-Lafayette        1
  72 Louisiana Tech             1
  72 Marshall                   1
  72 Morehead St.               1
  72 Murray St.                 1
  72 New Mexico                 1
  72 New Mexico St.             1
  72 Norfolk St.                1
  72 Northeastern               1
  72 Oakland                    1
  72 Old Dominion               1
  72 Oregon State               1
  72 Penn State                 1
  72 Providence                 1
  72 Saint Louis                1
  72 San Diego St.              1
  72 Seton Hall                 1
  72 South Carolina             1
  72 South Carolina Upstate     1
  72 South Dakota St.           1
  72 Tennessee St.              1
  72 UC Santa Barbara           1
  72 UW Green Bay               1
  72 Valparaiso                 1
  72 Virginia Tech              1
  72 Weber St.                  1
  72 Western Kentucky           1
  72 Wyoming                    1
     Total Divsion I          405
               Non-Division I   2
                  High School  10
                     Foreign*  74
Total in NBA, start 2017-18   491


NBA Teams Sorted by Average Experience
 
Team                   Avg. Exp.   Avg. Age
Cleveland                8.00       29.95
Golden State             7.06       28.47
Houston                  6.20       28.05
San Antonio              6.00       28.29
Oklahoma City            5.40       27.04
New Orleans              5.24       27.32
Minnesota                5.00       27.07
Dallas                   4.94       27.71
New York                 4.65       26.81
Utah                     4.35       26.90
Indiana                  4.31       25.92
Washington               4.29       26.75
Denver                   4.22       26.03
Milwaukee                4.20       26.10
Charlotte                4.19       25.79
Sacramento               4.06       25.99
Orlando                  4.06       25.84
LA Lakers                3.94       24.90
Detroit                  3.94       26.12
Miami                    3.82       26.34
Memphis                  3.82       25.69
LA Clippers              3.75       26.87
Toronto                  3.71       25.41
Portland                 3.67       25.00
Atlanta                  3.47       26.40
Brooklyn                 3.41       25.81
Phoenix                  3.41       24.52
Philadelphia             3.12       24.84
Boston                   2.69       24.92
Chicago                  2.18       24.51
Average per team         4.37       26.38
 
 
 
NBA Teams Sorted by Average Age
 
Team                   Avg. Exp.   Avg. Age
Cleveland                8.00       29.95
Golden State             7.06       28.47
San Antonio              6.00       28.29
Houston                  6.20       28.05
Dallas                   4.94       27.71
New Orleans              5.24       27.32
Minnesota                5.00       27.07
Oklahoma City            5.40       27.04
Utah                     4.35       26.90
LA Clippers              3.75       26.87
New York                 4.65       26.81
Washington               4.29       26.75
Atlanta                  3.47       26.40
Miami                    3.82       26.34
Detroit                  3.94       26.12
Milwaukee                4.20       26.10
Denver                   4.22       26.03
Sacramento               4.06       25.99
Indiana                  4.31       25.92
Orlando                  4.06       25.84
Brooklyn                 3.41       25.81
Charlotte                4.19       25.79
Memphis                  3.82       25.69
Toronto                  3.71       25.41
Portland                 3.67       25.00
Boston                   2.69       24.92
LA Lakers                3.94       24.90
Philadelphia             3.12       24.84
Phoenix                  3.41       24.52
Chicago                  2.18       24.51
Average per team         4.37       26.38
 

Years of Experience for NBA Players

   No. Years NBA     No. NBA                   Cumulative
     Experience      Players    Percentage     Percentage
          0             95         .193           .193
          1             67         .136           .330
          2             54         .110           .440
          3             48         .098           .538
          4             32         .065           .603
          5             33         .067           .670
          6             26         .053           .723
          7             25         .051           .774
          8             23         .047           .821
          9             28         .057           .878
         10             13         .026           .904
         11              9         .018           .923
         12             10         .020           .943
         13             10         .020           .963
         14             7          .014           .978
         15             2          .004           .982
         16             5          .010           .992
         17             1          .002           .994
         18             1          .002           .996
         19             2          .004          1.000
                Total  491

NBA Coaches and College Attended

Team                     Coach*             College
Brooklyn Nets            Kenny Anderson     Georgia Tech
Atlanta Hawks            Mike Budenholzer  Pomona
Boston Celtics           Brad Stevens      DePauw
Charlotte Hornets        Steve Clifford    Maine-Farmington
Chicago Bulls            Fred Hoiberg       Iowa State
Cleveland Cavaliers      Tyronn Lue         Nebraska
Dallas Mavericks         Rick Carlisle     Virginia
Denver Nuggets           Mike Malone        Loyola-Maryland
Detroit Pistons          Stan Van Gundy     SUNY-Brockport
Golden State Warriers    Steve Kerr         Arizona
Houston Rockets          Mike D'Antoni      Marshall
Indiana Pacers           Nate McMillan      North Carolina State
Los Angeles Clippers     Doc Rivers        Marquette
Los Angeles Lakers       Luke Walton        Arizona
Memphis Grizzlies        David Fizdale      San Diego
Miami Heat               Erik Spoelstra    Portland
Milwaukee Bucks          Jason Kidd        California
Minnesota Timberwolves   Tom Thibodeau      Salem State
New Orleans Pelicans     Alvin Gentry       Appalachian State
New York Knicks          Jeff Hornacek     Iowa State
Oklahoma City Thunder    Billy Donovan      Providence
Orlando Magic            Frank Vogel       Kentucky
Philadelphia 76ers       Brett Brown       Boston University
Phoenix Suns             Earl Watson        UCLA
Portland Trail Blazers   Terry Stotts      Oklahoma
Sacramento Kings         Dave Joerger       North Carolina
San Antonio Spurs        Gregg Popovich    Air Force Academy
Toronto Raptors          Dwane Casey       Kentucky
Utah Jazz                Quin Snyder        Duke
Washington Wizards       Scott Brooks       UC Irvine
* Note: No NBA coaching changes from last season