There is a frequent debate amongst my circle of friends about the relative importance of a college basketball program with respect to preparation for subsequent success in the NBA.

For example the much heralded Duke program has really produced just 2 top-notch and perhaps one or two tier-2 NBA players in the last decade or so – Grant Hill and Elton Brand qualify in the “Outstanding” category and Shane Battier and the player who was perhaps the best NCAA basketball player ever, Christian Laettner, are perhaps the two others who have gone on to have meaningful professional careers. The jury is still out on Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, Jay Williams’ career emerged still-born due to an off-field mishap and in general Duke basketballers including Mike Dunleavy Jr have failed to match their college success without the nurturing coaching of Mike K and the avid support of the system from the great Univ in Durham NC.

Their legendary rivals from across the Research Triangle Park, the UNC Tar Heels, have done a far better job of preparing players for a career as professional NBA players – apart from MJ and James Worthy, several others have had very distinguished NBA careers including Larry Brown, Rasheed Wallace, Sleepy Sam Perkins, Jerry Stackhouse, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Bob McAdoo, Kenny Smith and Rick Fox.

Two very productive colleges in recent times have been the Univ of Arizona (Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, Clifford Robinson, Andre Iguodala and one of my personal favorite player-philosophers Steve Kerr stand out) and the University of Connecticut (Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, etc). Georgetown has produced a profusion of outstanding big men incl Patrick Ewing, Alonzon Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo though my personal favorite from there has to be the inimitable Allen Iverson.

For sheer numbers of NBA players produced, few colleges can compare with the profusion from Kentucky, UCLA and Kansas, though their greatest products came out a long time back.

Here is a very helpful link for analyzing NBA players grouped by their alma mater…