Today is the final installment of the three-part series where we wanted to take a look at the NBA Draft broken down by school over the history of the modern NBA Draft (1949-2006). In Part I, we examined the raw numbers and made a rudimentary attempt at tying NBA talent to NCAA Tournament success. In Part II, we broke out the raw numbers by round selected, and then further sliced that data into an examination of “Top 10” and “Top 5” selections. Today we finish off the series by looking at draft selections by decade, hoping to see how things have trended over the entire era of the NBA Draft. See Table C below.
Table C. NBA Draft Picks by School & Decade (1949-2006)
Notes: this table is sorted by the Total Draftees column, and is limited to schools with a minimum of ten or more draft picks since 1949. The yellow shading refers to the highest number in that column.
Consistency. The first thing that struck us as interesting were the schools that were fairly consistent in providing draft picks throughout the NBA Draft era. UNC, Louisville, Kentucky and St. John’s do not lead any particular decade, but each school has provided at least two picks per decade throughout. UCLA and Indiana have been similarly consistent over the entire period, but each also led a decade in picks (UCLA during the 70s; Indiana during the 80s).
Less Volume, but Still Consistent. Look at Big 10 stalwarts Illinois and Minnesota, along with Villanova and Utah. We’ve been clowning the Gophers all week, but surprisingly, they’ve consistently produced between 2 to 7 picks per decade – guess it’s easy to forget about Willie Burton and Joel Przybilla. The same is true for the Illini (between 2 to 7 per decade), Villanova (2 to 5) and Utah (2 to 5). Maryland, Syracuse, Ohio St., Marquette, Wake Forest, Temple, USC, Stanford, Memphis, Tennessee, Oregon, BYU, Mississippi St., LaSalle and Bradley are some of the other schools with at least one draft pick per decade.
The USF Dons Represent a Bygone Era
Whatever happened to…? The University of San Francisco, led by KC Jones and Bill Russell, produced fourteen draft picks from 1949-79, and only two since. Eight of Kansas St.‘s fourteen total draft picks were produced from 1949-69, but there’s only been one since 1989 (Steve Henson in 1990) – it even led the 1940s/50s with seven picks. And despite its recent renaissance under John Beilein and the proliferation of draft picks to come under Bob Huggins, West Virginia has only had one draft pick since 1968 (seven overall)! Another early producer Holy Cross (six overall) hasn’t had any picks since 1969; and Grambling (nine overall) hasn’t had any since 1978.
These Two Schools Have Come On Strong
Late Bloomers. The biggest examples of late bloomers have to be Arizona and Connecticut. Arizona’s first draft pick was in 1974, and it has produced thirty-three more since, good enough for sixth (tied with UK) all-time. Connecticut is even more shocking – the Huskies’ first pick was Cliff Robinson in 1989 (!!!), but it has produced twenty picks since (1.11 picks per year). Duke also has to be mentioned here. The Devils had good success in the early years (seven picks through the 70s), but have had thirty-two draft picks since 1980, twenty-six of those since 1990 (1.44 picks per year). They were second in the 90s with fifteen picks, and are currently tied with UConn leading the 2000s with eleven picks. No wonder they’ve been so good. Other late bloomers include Georgia Tech (22 of its 24 picks since 1982), Michigan St. (24 of its 26 picks since 1979), Georgetown (17 of 18 since 1980), Alabama (19 of 23 since 1982), Texas (15 of 17 since 1982), and Georgia (13 of 14 since 1982). After tonight’s draft, Florida could have as many as 14 of its 15 picks since 1984, but we already knew the Gators were a late bloomer. As a bit of an anomaly among the traditional powers, Kansas didn’t really begin consistent production of draft picks until the 70s (24 of 27 picks since 1972).
Coaches. The one trend we see with many of these late bloomers is how important coaches are to the talent level of a program. UNC, Louisville, UCLA, Kansas, Kentucky and Indiana have had great coaches throughout most of their histories. It makes sense that these schools have also been the most consistent at putting talent into the NBA Draft. But look at some of the other schools, particularly the late bloomers. Jim Calhoun has been responsible for every single one of UConn’s draft picks; Lute Olson has been responsible for all but five of Arizona’s draft picks (85%), and Coach K for 74% of Duke’s all-time picks. Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech (79%), John Thompson at Georgetown (83%), and the Jud Heathcote/Tom Izzo reign at Michigan St. (92%) show just how important a single coach can be to a program.
Final Thoughts. This has been a fun experiment, and in only a few hours, we get to update all of our data with draft data from 2007. Something tells us that Florida and Ohio State’s numbers are going to be rising. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and commentary. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…