Is Duke Among the Best Colleges at Producing NBA Talent?

Is Duke Among the Best Colleges at Producing NBA Talent?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The University of Kentucky and Duke are widely recognized as the leading collegiate basketball programs in the nation, producing the most one-and-done and NBA-ready products over the last five years, ahead of schools like Villanova, Arizona, Michigan State and even Duke's rival, UNC.

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One full season after Mike Krzyzewski retired from the Blue Devils sideline, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Famer's successful track record of Duke’s player development lives on, as the program produced perennial generations of NBA-ready players within the last 40 years. 

To be exact, 73 players have been drafted out of Duke since Coach K’s first season with the Blue Devils in 1980. That number is expected to grow on Thursday night as freshmen Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II are projected first-round draft picks across hypothetical NC sports betting. However, they will represent the first Duke draft class unaffiliated with Coach K since that 1980-1981 campaign, having played under new coach Jon Scheyer.

Only the University of Kentucky, another program notorious for one-and-done products, is ahead of the Blue Devils in terms of the most NBA talent generated over the last five years. The Wildcats’ number of its NBA talent pool is set to expand with the addition of freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston likely being selected in the first round on Thursday night.

Victor Wembanyama will be the consensus No. 1 overall pick for the Spurs, but the rest of the night will be enticing for backers to find value, especially within the next four selections after the Frenchman.

With the 2023 NBA Draft coming up, took a look at which college basketball programs have produced the most NBA talent over the past five years, utilizing total win shares from Here are the results. 

And you might as well check out our research piece from earlier this year: Who on Tobacco Road Produces Better NBA Talent, Duke Or UNC?

Colleges with the Most NBA Talent Since 2018

Rank School Players Total Win Share
1KentuckyShai Gilgeous-Alexander (29), Tyrese Maxey (14.6), Jarred Vanderbilt (14.3), Imannuel Quickley (14.1), PJ Washington (10.6), Tyler Herro (10.5), Keldon Johnson (10.5), Hamidou Diallo (6.2), Nick Richards (5.2), Isaiah Jackson (4.1), Shaedon Sharpe (1.2), Brandon Boston Jr. (0.6), Kevin Knox (0.3), TyTy Washington (-0.1)121.1
2DukeWendell Carter Jr. (18.1), Zion Williamson (14.2), Gary Trent Jr. (14.1), Grayson Allen (13.1), Marvin Bagley (9.3), RJ Barrett (8.1), Tre Jones (6.7), Mark Williams (2.8), Paolo Banchero (2.4), Jalen Johnson (2.2), AJ Griffin (2.2), Cam Reddish (2), Vernon Carey (0.2), Wendell Moore (0.1), Cassius Stanley (0), Trevor Keels (0)95.5
3VillanovaMikal Bridges (32.1), Jalen Brunson (26), Donte DiVincenzo (13.4), Sadiq Bey (11.1), Eric Paschall (5), Jeremiah Robinson Earl (3.4), Omari Spellman (2.4)93.4
T4Arizona DeAndre Ayton (30.9), Josh Green (5.5), Zeke Nnaji (4.3), Bennedict Mathurin (1.8), Christian Koloko (1.7), Dalen Terry (0.5), Nico Mannion (0.2)44.9
T4Michigan State Jaren Jackson (19.4), Miles Bridges (16), Xavier Tillman (8.8), Max Christie (0.6), Cassius Winston (0.1)44.9

Duke’s NBA Brotherhood Continues to Thrive

Duke has produced the second-most NBA talent based on total win-share with 95.5 points, trailing only the University of Kentucky, which has 121.1 points. There are currently 14 former Wildcats drafted within the last five years that contribute to that leading statistic, compared to Duke’s 16 players in the league, which is the most in the NBA during that time period.

Led by Wendell Carter Jr., drafted in 2018 with the 7th overall pick to the Chicago Bulls, the 24-year-old leads all former Blue Devils with total win share points (18.1), playing the third most games (260) in the NBA on this list, behind only RJ Barrett and Gary Trent Jr.

In second, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson (14.2), has been recognized as one of the most important faces of the entire league, despite his limited playing time. However, whenever he participates, he is a dominant force on the court, averaging 25.8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists throughout his career, proving his significant contributions and value to the Pelicans. 

There are rumors Williamson could actually be traded to the Charlotte Hornets this offseason, a soft landing for the NC native that would also add some juice to NC sports betting apps next year.

Other notable former Duke Blue Devil Basketball alums are Trent Jr. and Barrett, who were drafted in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Both are more consistent and reliable starters for their teams, the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks, and have played in more games than any other former Duke player within the last five years.

Last year’s top overall pick, Paolo Banchero, also headlines this list. Winner of the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award, he averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists with the Magic, forming one of the best rookie campaigns in recent memory.

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Felix Veletanga

Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the North Carolina sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

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