History of Colleges Most Represented on NBA Rosters


From March Madness to the NBA Finals, this part of the year is an exciting time for college and professional basketball fans. While the battle between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors will soon come to an end, there is one more thing to look forward to this basketball season: the 2019 NBA Draft.

With high profile college stars like Zion Williams and Ja Morant entering the NBA soon, it’ll be interesting to see how they adapt or even change the game. We certainly hope for the best for our hometown neighbors, the Phoenix Suns, who hold the sixth overall pick.

GCU fans cannot contain their excitement about the future. We already rock the student section at basketball games, and we even have Phoenix Suns legend, NBA All-Star and Olympian Dan Majerle, as our head coach. With the fan base we have supporting us, we possess tons of energy as we start to make our program debut in Division-I athletics.

There’s lots of buzz surrounding our team and our players as we look into the future. We’ve already made an entrance into the NBA Draft, as seven former GCU players have been drafted in the past.

It’s only fitting that we follow up our NFL Draft analysis with an NBA Draft analysis. We decided to take a look at every NBA team to see which colleges have fueled their rosters. Like the NFL analysis, we gathered data on players who have appeared on an active NBA roster, who they played for, how long they played for and which college they came from. We compiled this data into graphics for each NBA franchise team that shows the key points. Take a look:

Obviously, we had to highlight our hometown heroes, the Phoenix Suns. Our first goal was to find the colleges with the most Suns players in the history of the franchise. The Suns have been around since 1968, and have since had 376 players on their roster in total. Out of these 376 players, UCLA and Kentucky have both produced ten Suns players. Currently, Kansas takes the lead for the most number of players on the 2018-2019 season roster.

After finding where the majority of Suns players came from, we took a look at the colleges whose former athletes hold the longest average careers on different NBA teams. For the Suns specifically, former Oklahoma players spent an average of almost five years on the Suns’ roster. After Oklahoma comes Arkansas with an average of four years spent on the Suns’ roster.

We also found which college teams dominated each decade on the Suns’ roster. During the first decade of the Suns’ existence, South Carolina produced the most Suns players. In the 70s, North Carolina took the lead. In the 80s, there was a three-way-tie between UCLA, Old Dominion, and Oklahoma. In the 90s, Auburn produced the most. UCLA dominated the 2000s, and Kentucky has contributed the most since 2010.

Phoenix Suns Roster

We collected the same data for every NBA franchise team, so if you don’t fancy the Phoenix Suns, feel free to take a look at your favorite teams in the slideshow above.

We couldn’t have analyzed each individual team without analyzing the NBA league as a whole. Since the league’s formation in the 1940s, there have been 3,394 players on rosters in both the United States and Canada. Overall, Kentucky has produced the most NBA players with 107 players appearing on any roster. UCLA comes in a close second with 97 players produced all-time.

When it comes to career length, Clemson holds the longest all-time career length with former players averaging almost eight years in the league. Alabama comes in second place with almost seven and a half years on average as Auburn follows close behind.

In the 1960s, Indiana produced the most NBA players, and in the 70s, North Carolina took over. UCLA ruled the 1980s through the 2000s until Kentucky took control of the past decade. That’s not surprising, as Kentucky has appeared in the NCAA every year except for two since 2000 and won the tournament most recently in 2012.

We can pretty much guarantee we will be watching the upcoming NBA Draft as soon as the drama between Golden State and Toronto comes to an end. It will be exciting to see which schools continue to provide talent to the league and which schools will begin to appear more often. As a force to be reckoned with, we have great hope that our own Antelopes will make a stir. Besides athletic success, we do know we can always guarantee a quality education at Grand Canyon University to set our students up for career success in another field.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.