NBA Draft: Which School Produces the Most NBA All-Stars?

We doubt it's the first program that comes to mind...

June 21, 2019 6:00 am
Zion Williamson poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. (Sarah Stier/Getty)
Zion Williamson poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. (Sarah Stier/Getty)
Getty Images

Last night in Brooklyn, the New Orleans Pelicans made Zion Williamson out of Duke the first pick in the NBA Draft.

While there’s no way to know for sure how the 18-year-old will fare in the league, all indications are Williamson will flourish as the centerpiece of the Pelicans’ offense and has a chance to move into an All-Star caliber role early in his career if things go according to plan.

Should he go on to do that, Williamson will be the latest in a long line of Duke alums who have gone on to have All-Star careers in the NBA … right? Well, not exactly.

As it turns out, over the past two decades, Duke — a perennial powerhouse in the NCAA — has only produced five NBA All-Stars: Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Kyrie Irving.

Given how prominent Duke is on the national stage and how late the school usually continues to dance in the annual March Madness tournament, you’d think more Blue Devils would turn into All-Stars, but that’s just not the case.

Zion Williamson dunks the ball. (Streeter Lecka/Getty)
Zion Williamson dunks the ball. (Streeter Lecka/Getty)
Getty Images

So if Coach K doesn’t churn that many future All-Stars out of Durham, what schools do?

To help answer that question, we broke down the rosters (146 players in all) from the past 20 All-Star games, beginning with the game in 1998 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. (There was no game in 1999 due to a lockout.)

Below, you’ll find the All-Star breakdown, first by the number of players selected and then by the number of overall school selections over the past 20 years — i.e., 14-time All-Star Michael Jordan counts once on the first list and 14 times on the second.

For length and clarity, schools with a single All-Star player (e.g. Davidson and Steph Curry) were omitted from both lists.

Total Number of All-Stars By College From Past 20 Teams

University of California, Berkeley2
Cincinnati 2
Duke 5
Georgia Tech2
Louisiana Tech2
Marquette 2
Michigan State3
Ohio State2
Purdue 2
St. John’s2
Texas A&M2
Wake Forest4
Wisconsin 2

NBA All-Star Selections By College From Past 20 Teams

University of California, Berkeley11
Cincinnati 2
Duke 19
Georgia Tech13
Louisiana Tech18
Marquette 17
Michigan State6
Ohio State2
Purdue 4
St. John’s2
Texas A&M2
Wake Forest26
Wisconsin 3

With seven players spread over the past 20 NBA All-Star games, Kentucky leads the pack in All-Star alums followed by Duke, UNC, UConn and UCLA with five and Wake Forest, Alabama, Georgetown and Georgia Tech with four.

The overall selection numbers also paint an interesting picture with UNC at the top of the heap (30), followed by Georgetown (28), Wake Forest and Kentucky (26), and UCLA (21). Duke (19) is actually down in a second tier with schools like Louisiana Tech (18), LSU (16) and Marquette (17).

Also missing from those lists besides schools with a single All-Star? The stats on players selected straight out of high school or from overseas. Those numbers, and they’re worth the wait, are here:

Number of Non-College All-Stars From Past 20 Teams

High School12

Non-College All-Star Selections From Past 20 Teams

High School86

As you can see, over the past 20 years, high schools have produced more All-Star players than UNC and Duke combined, as have overseas basketball programs and pro leagues. While perhaps that doesn’t seem overly noteworthy, consider that the NBA stopped allowing players to be drafted straight out of high school starting in 2006, almost 15 years ago.

In addition to showcasing that top players don’t need a one-and-done year at a top program like Duke, UNC or Villanova to have the highest level of success in the NBA, the above numbers also add weight to NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s desire to begin allowing players to enter the league out of high school again.

“There are a bunch of issues that need to be worked through between us and the players association, so it’s something we’re in active discussions about,” Silver said last month. “It’s a few years away, I think.”

Though the matter has to be collectively bargained, Silver is believed to be targeting the 2022 draft class as the next one which will allow high schoolers.

As for players from overseas, it seems pretty obvious that GMs should keep drafting them (as if Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić and Luka Dončić didn’t make that obvious already).

So, if your team happens to take a foreign player or even a player out of a smaller school like San Diego State (Kawhi Leonard), Santa Clara (Steve Nash) or Weber State (Damian Lillard) instead of a Blue Devil, don’t fret too much.

It was still a smart choice for the Pelicans to take Zion though — even if they don’t deserve to.

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