While the number of international players has increased in recent NBA Drafts, it is still the same college programs that continue to be a factory for pro talent. Their ability to churn out NBA-ready players will again be prominently represented this year: North Carolina will most likely have four players drafted (Lawson, Hansbrough, Green, and Ellington); Connecticut should have three (Thabeet, Adrien, and Price); UCLA and Arizona both with two (Holiday, Collison and Budinger, Hill, respectively).
But a simple look at the sheer number of alumni in the NBA shouldn't determine which school has produced the best players. Clearly, Paul Pierce (Kansas) and Shavlik Randolph (Duke) are not created equal. To determine which school has cultivated the best active pros, we devised a five-point scale, with someone like Pierce on one end of the spectrum, and Randolph on the other:
* 5 points - All-Star in half seasons played or more
* 4 points - All-Star
* 3 points - consistent starter (started in 2/3 of games played)
* 2 points - 20 mpg for career
* 1 point - on an NBA roster
With any metric like this, there are going to be problems, of course. It hurts the younger players who have yet to prove that they can be starters (Kevin Love didn't even start half the games this past season). But it can also hurt the older players, whose minutes and starts have declined with age. Just one All-Star appearance vaults you to 4 points (looking at you, Jamaal Magloire!). It also rewards players on bad teams: an average player on a mediocre squad gets more playing time than an average player on a good team. But all in all, any deficiencies eventually even themselves out in Top 10 NBA-Talent Producing Colleges.
Under Jim Calhoun, Connecticut has been a factory for NBA talent. In 2006, the Huskies had four players drafted in the first round (Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams, and Josh Boone). And that doesn't even include Ben Gordon, drafted in 2004, who had one of his best seasons this past year, and flourished in that epic seven-game series against the Celtics in the playoffs.
But it should come as a surprise to no one that the top two schools are located less than 10 miles apart on a stretch known as Tobacco Road. North Carolina, number two, has four current players who have made the All-Star team, most notably, Vince Carter. The Tar Heels' draft class in 2005 really pushed them up the rankings, as they tied a record with four players selected in the first round (Marvin Williams, 2nd overall; Raymond Felton, 5th; Sean May, 13th; and Rashad McCants, 14th).
UNC is one-upped by, who else: Duke. The Blue Devils earned the number one spot with sheer numbers alone, as it has the most current players in the NBA of any university (14). Often noted for their disappointments (Danny Ferry, Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams), the current crop of Dukies show that they bring more to the league than any other school.