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Bossi's Best: College basketball's first-round draft pick factories

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Of the 300 first-round NBA Draft picks over the last 10 years (2008-17), 254 of them have attended Div. I NCAA programs for at least one year. Which of the 83 programs that has had a player selected in the first round during that time has produced the most first-rounders? Has that draft success equaled success on the floor? And are there any outliers?

In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at college basketball’s first round Draft pick factories.



John Calipari
John Calipari (AP Images)

There’s probably nobody out there who is surprised to see that Kentucky has produced the most first-round draft picks over the last 10 years. The Wildcats have seen a total of 24 former players selected in the first round. Not a single one of those first-rounders came until after John Calipari’s first season (2009-10) in Lexington.

Included among that group are three No. 1 picks - John Wall in 2010, Anthony Davis in 2012 and Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015. The Wildcats' 17 Lottery picks are two more than the next team on the list, Duke, has produced total first-rounders (15) over the same 10 year time span.

Some have argued that Calipari hasn’t done enough with all of that talent, but that seems far-fetched at best. There simply aren’t many fans who can say that they would trade what their team has done for the National Championship, four Final Fours, five regular season SEC and six SEC Tournament titles that Calipari has won.

What’s even crazier, add Calipari’s time at Memphis during the last 10 years and he adds one more No. 1 pick in Derrick Rose and brings his total first-rounders to 26 with 19 of them being lottery picks.


Mike Krzyzewski
Mike Krzyzewski (AP Images)

The only coach to consistently give Calipari a run on the recruiting trail has been Mike Krzyzewski and coach K has come the closest to equaling Calipari’s success in producing first round picks. Over the last 10 years, Duke has had 15 first-round picks but 14 of them have come since 2011 and he’s got a No. 1 Draft pick of his own in 2011’s Kyrie Irving.

In total, nine of Duke’s first-round picks over the last 10 years have been lottery picks and the Blue Devils have had nine one-and-done picks.

Of course, nobody is questioning Coack K’s success or credentials. He’s one of a select few in the argument for greatest college coach of all time and over the last 10 years the Blue Devils have won two National Championships, appeared in two Final Fours and won three ACC Tournament Championships. Surprisingly, Duke only has one regular season ACC title in the last 10 years.


Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins (AP Images)

Kansas and North Carolina are tied for third having produced a total of 12 first-round draft picks each over the last 10 years. However, in terms of draft production, the Jayhawks rate just ahead of the Tar Heels because they have produced a No. 1 pick -- Andrew Wiggins in 2014 - and because almost all of their first-rounders (10) have been selected in the lottery.

The average position of Jayhawks in the draft is 10.41. Next highest is Arizona – who checks in at No. 6 overall with eight first-rounders over the last 10 years – whose players' draft position averages 10.75 over the same 10 year span.

Certainly, those high draft picks have played a huge role in Bill Self’s success in Lawrence. He’s won the Big 12 regular season title each of those 10 years (his streak is at 14 total), won a National Championship in 2008, has been to three Final Fours and for good measure Self has guided the Jayhawks to six conference tournament titles since 2008.


Roy Williams
Roy Williams (AP Images)

Because its players are drafted higher on average over the last 10 years, Kansas just beat out North Carolina in the ranking of first-round factories. However, one could make a pretty good argument that Roy Williams has run one of the single most successful programs in college basketball over the course of the past 10 years.

In addition to producing 12 first-round picks - five of them in the lottery - Williams won a National Championships in 2009 and 2017 and was the runner-up in 2016. On top of those three Final Four appearances, UNC has won the ACC regular season title six times and the ACC conference tournament twice in the last 10 years.


Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball (AP Images)

Checking in at No. 5 overall on the list of schools producing the most first-round draft picks is UCLA. The Bruins have had 11 first-rounders (five lottery) in the last 10 years but hasn’t made a trip to the Final Four since 2008.

At No. 6 overall, Syracuse is the only other program to produce double-digit first-round draft picks over the last 10 years. Jim Boeheim and the Orange have seen 10 players taken in the first round, four of them in the lottery, and they made Final Four appearances in 2013 and 2016.

The other programs to produce more than five first-round draft picks over the last 10 years are previously mentioned Arizona (8), Texas (8), Washington (7) and Indiana and Michigan who have each had six.


Jay Wright
Jay Wright (AP Images)

When it comes to an outlier for the production of first-round draft picks and overall program success over the last 10 years there is one program that truly stands out, and it stands out in a major way.


Though Jay Wright and the Wildcats won national titles in 2016 and 2018, appeared in another Final Four in 2009 and have won the last four Big East regular season championships, they have only produced one first-round pick in the last 10 years. Amazingly, they barely even had that one pick as their lone first-round pick Josh Hart was taken with the last pick (No. 30) of the 2017 NBA Draft’s first round.

To put things in perspective, 44 other programs have had more than one player drafted in the last 10 years. Maybe three or four of them would trade spots with Wright and Villanova at this point.