ESPN is ranking college programs’ NBA pedigrees since 1989, and they put KU at #14. The entire article can probably best be summed up in the following line: “If the Jayhawks were a 1950s doo-wop group, they’d be known as ‘Paul Pierce and the Underachievers.’” As an unabashed KU supporter I obviously think the article & ranking is a bit off, but given their criteria and what they’re looking at – if I try to be objective – it’s probably a reasonably fair assessment.
Various people & sites have analyzed draft picks’ expected performance, win shares, and a host of other metrics. The easiest way to probably look at it though, is by simple name recognition and All-Star appearances. Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, UCLA and Wake Forest are all schools that have multiple, current NBA players that have been on an All-Star roster at some point in their careers. Heck, even Alabama has two active players that have made it (Mo Williams and Gerald Wallace). Alas, KU’s lone representative is Paul Pierce, though Mario, Hinrich and Collison all play major roles on their respective teams.
So although I might quibble with a ranking of #14 based on the number of NBA players KU has produced, I can understand the “quality vs. quantity of players” argument and would have expected KU to be somewhere in the #5-10 range. If Brandon Rush comes back healthy, Darrell Arthur shows what he’s capable of, Thomas Robinson gets a chance to play meaningful minutes, and Ben McLemore shines like we expect him to, I would expect this ranking to improve considerably if ESPN does this again next year.
And, oh yeah, there’s this Wiggins kid coming to Lawrence…