With All-Stars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard running the league from an attention standpoint, it’s hard to argue that high schoolers can’t make the successful jump to the NBA. Even international players like Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have had Hall of Fame careers after coming to the states.
However, with new rules changes, players must spend more than one year in college which, from a quality standpoint, makes for better basketball in the long run. It’s like a visual sample size: GMs get to see their potential picks in a more competitive setting before throwing millions into their bank accounts.
Not all colleges produce NBA-ready talent. Some players just use school as a swift launching pad for the professional level, like modern day Kentucky, while other colleges like Marquette and Connecticut encourage athletes to stay into their upperclassmen years for further development. It also depends on the hype and if a player is projected to become a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
With that being said, we’ve compiled the 15 colleges that have produced the best NBA talent ever. This goes back into the ABA days as well, so you might see a few surprises.
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For all of those that grew up with Lil Penny, you’ll appreciate this. Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, avoiding all the knee injuries, was en route to becoming the next Magic Johnson – just with more athleticism — which is downright scary. He averaged 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds in his first four years in the league as a 6-7 point guard and though he could’ve been a Hall of Famer, his impact on and off the court can’t be understated. Today, kids still stand in line to pay top dollar for his sneaker releases. Then there’s Derrick Rose, the athletic Bulls guard who has seen his career spiral downward, similar to Penny, after an ACL tear, and now a meniscus tear in the other knee – both season-ending injuries. But Rose was still a NBA MVP at age 22, the youngest ever, and he averaged over 20 points and seven assists in his first four seasons, leading to three All-Star appearances. Tyreke Evans came onto the scene ferociously his rookie year but has been quiet since. However, he’s still averaging over 17 points in his five-year career. Other solid pros include the late Lorenzen Wright, who played for 13 seasons, and Shawne Williams. There’s also Dajuan Wagner, who I think would’ve been great if he didn’t have those medical issues.
Dwyane Wade is a perennial All-Star with three NBA titles, and who knows how many he’ll finish with when his career is over. Steve Novak is a three-point machine who made his name in New York, and Wesley Matthews has established himself as a very good shooting guard who competes on both ends of the floor. The most exciting player to look forward to is Jimmy Butler, whose improved shooting is now on par with his defensive prowess. But they also have great former players, such as Maurice Lucas, Jim Chones and George Thompson. Even Doc Rivers went there before doing the dirty work in the NBA for 14 years.
13. GEORGIA TECH
Out of all of these teams, Georgia Tech probably has the least collegiate success but they have a lot of quality pros. Chris Bosh was a perennial All-Star for the Raptors and now as a member of the Heat, he continues to put up great numbers. Stephon Marbury made two All-Star appearances before his career went awry, but he still averaged over 19 points and seven assists per game. Jarrett Jack is a great backup point guard, and Derrick Favors is steadily improving as the center for the Utah Jazz. And I can’t forget about Iman Shumpert, who’s a solid young guard for the Knicks. They’ve also produced former sharpshooters Mark Price and Dennis Scott.