18 Colleges with the Most NBA Players – 2024

April 23, 2024

nba players by colleges

Alongside college football and pro sports leagues like the MLB, NBA, and NFL, college basketball is one of the country’s premier sports. Its popularity and influence is evidenced by the amount of money in the sport—every year, the NCAA tournament brings in more than $1 billion in revenue, and the highest-paid college basketball coaches have contracts worth millions of dollars annually. And even though college athletes aren’t paid for their on-the-field labor, top colleges have been a consistent source of talent for pro leagues across all sports. Every year, elite college athletes declare for the draft. When it comes to the NBA, there are some schools with long and storied histories of players turning pro. With this year’s March Madness in the books, let’s take a look at some of the colleges with the most NBA players in history.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players

1) University of Kentucky

  • 132 NBA players
  • 10 WNBA players

 By the numbers, the University of Kentucky is the top NBA players college of all time, having produced 132 NBA players and 10 WNBA players. Of the top 20 Wildcats-turned-pro-ballers, 12 are still suiting up for NBA squads today. Devin Booker, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, De’Aaron Fox, Julius Randle, John Wall, Tyler Herro, and Jamal Murray all played at Kentucky. And on the women’s side, a Kentucky player—Rhyne Howard—went first overall in the WNBA draft as recently as 2022.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)


  • 104 NBA players
  • 15 WNBA players

With 11 national titles, no men’s college basketball program is more decorated than the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins also produced one of the best basketball players to ever step foot on a court in the form of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But Kareem isn’t the only NBA hall-of-famer to come out of UCLA: Gail Goodrich, Reggie Miller, Jamaal Wilkes, Bill Walton, and Don Barksdale also suited up for the Bruins before entering the NBA.

3) University of North Carolina

  • 102 NBA players
  • 20 WNBA players

Michael Jordan played at UNC. Naming anyone else in the same sentence just wouldn’t feel right. But the fact is, 101 other NBA players came out of UNC, as did 20 WNBA players. The women’s squad at UNC has one the national championship once, in 1994, and the men’s squad has won it six times, the third-most all-time. Lastly, Bob McAdoo, Billy Cunningham, James Worthy, Walter Davis, Vince Carter, Ty Lawson, Kenny Smith, and Bobby Jones are just a sample of some of the NBA talent that’s come out of UNC.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

3) Duke University

  • 100 NBA players
  • 24 WNBA players

The Duke Blue Devils men’s squad has won the NCAA tournament five times, and while Kansas and UNC might have produced more NBA hall-of-fame level talent, there are some serious stars amongst Duke’s graduates. Zion Williamson, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Grant Hill, Jeff Mullins, JJ Redick, Jabari Parker, and Marvin Bagley III, amongst many others, are Duke alums.

5) University of Kansas 

  • 85 NBA players
  • 9 WNBA players

 James Naismith, the person who invented the sport of basketball, was also the Kansas Jayhawks’ first coach. With that kind of legacy, it’s not surprising that Kansas is one of the—if not the—most prestigious college basketball program in the United States. It’s also not surprising that it’s one of the best NBA players’ colleges. Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, and Joel Embiid—an all-time great and two generational icons—entered the NBA after college careers at Kansas. That track record alone would make Kansas one of the top NBA players’ colleges ever. But over the years they’ve had 85 men and 9 women go on to careers in professional basketball.

6) Indiana University

  • 70 NBA players
  • 3 WNBA players

As one of the top NBA players colleges, Indiana has been a dominant force in college basketball for decades. The men’s squad has won the NCAA tournament outright a total of five times—in 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, and 1987. And while the women’s team hasn’t experienced the same level of sustained success, they have been steadily improving. In 2021, they achieved their best result ever in the NCAA tournament, reaching their first Elite Eight before being bounced by Arizona. Isiah Thomas, Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon, OG Anunoby, and many more have been drafted into the NBA from Indiana.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

7) University of Michigan

  • 67 NBA players
  • 7 WNBA players

Michigan’s status as one of the top NBA players colleges is indisputable. NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber is the marquee name to come out of Michigan, but the program has also produced plenty of solid NBA talent, with players like Jordan Poole, Tim Hardaway Jr., Duncan Robinson, Trey Burke, Jalen Rose, and Jamal Crawford all being drafted into the NBA after college careers as Wolverines.

8) University of Arizona

  • 66 NBA players
  • 7 WNBA players 

Arizona, with 66 men and 7 women drafted into professional basketball, is without a doubt one of the best NBA players colleges in the country. Arizona also happens to be one of my favorite college basketball squads to watch—maybe because when I was growing up, the Wildcats were trotting out a squad which included sharpshooter Salim Stoudamire and future NBA champs Andre Iguodala and Channing Frye. But then again, Arizona seems to always attract elite NBA talent; Gilbert Arenas, Lauri Markkanen, Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry, and Aaron Gordon (just to name a few) are all ex-Wildcats.

Seven women’s Wildcats have gone on to play in the WNBA. Aari McDonald, who went third overall in the first round of the 2021 WNBA draft, is probably the most high-profile women’s Wildcat to play professionally; she currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.

9) Louisville

  • 64 NBA players
  • 12 WNBA players

Donovan Mitchell, who’s currently tearing it up for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs, was drafted from Louisville as the 13th overall pick in 2017. 63 others from Louisville have gone on to play in the NBA; another 12 have gone on to play in the WNBA.

Louisville has a rich basketball history. The Louisville Cardinals men’s team has won the national title twice—in 1980 and 1986 (they also won the NCAA tournament in 2013 under Rick Pitino, but had the title vacated after a scandal). While the women’s team hasn’t won a national championship, they were NCAA tournament runners-up in 2009 and 2013.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

10) Notre Dame

  • 63 NBA players
  • 20 WNBA players

Notre Dame has become a major source of WNBA talent in recent years. Of the 20 Notre Dame products to go on to play in the WNBA, 10 are active players. Jackie Young and Jewell Loyd entered the WNBA as overall number one picks, in 2019 and 2015, respectively.

11) St. John’s University

  • 57 NBA players
  • 1 WNBA player

Although the Red Storm have never taken home a national title, St. John’s is still one of the top NBA players colleges. A total of 57 St. John’s products have gone on to play in the NBA, among them Chris Mullin, Kevin Loughery, Max Zaslofsky, Walter Berry, and Metta World Peace. So far, Nadirah McKenith, drafted in 2013, is the only St. John’s women’s player to have played in the WNBA.

12) Syracuse University 

  • 56 NBA players
  • 5 WNBA players

Syracuse is one of the best basketball programs in the country. The Orange won the national title in 2003 with a freshman Carmelo Anthony leading the offense and coach Jim Boeheim coordinating on the sidelines. Melo is far and away the most prominent Syracuse product to make it in the NBA, but with 56 men and 5 women playing in the NBA or WNBA, Syracuse University is a top NBA players college.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

13) Villanova University

  • 56 NBA players
  • 1 WNBA player

Although only one Villanova alum has gone on to play in the WNBA, that player—Maddy Siegrist—is one of the best offensive players in college basketball history. With her 2896 points in her time at Villanova, she’s the 16th most prolific women’s college basketball scorer of all time. She was selected third overall in the 2023 NBA draft and currently plays for the Dallas Wings. Headlining the men’s side are burgeoning Knicks star Jalen Brunson and established vet Kyle Lowry.

14) Ohio State University

  • 54 NBA players
  • 18 WNBA players

Ohio State is a football school—Ohio Stadium is one of the biggest college football stadiums in the country, and the Buckeyes, with 6 national titles, are one of the most storied programs in college football history. But that doesn’t mean that Ohio State isn’t one of the best NBA players colleges. A total of 54 Buckeyes on the men’s side and 18 on the women’s side have gone on to careers in professional basketball. D’Angelo Russell, Mike Conley, Kelsey Mitchell, and Jantel Lavender are some of the Ohio State alums still playing in professional ball today.

15) Michigan State University

  • 53 NBA players
  • 6 WNBA players

 It makes sense that the top NBA players’ colleges are schools with storied basketball traditions. Michigan State is one such school. The Big Ten powerhouse boasts one of the highest winning percentages in all of college basketball; they’ve made the Final Four 10 times (that’s sixth most all time), and they won it all in 1979 and 2000. Plus, the Spartans men’s team has one of the hallmarks of a strong basketball program: a long-tenured coach. Tom Izzo has been head coach in East Lansing for 29 years, and he’s one of the highest-paid college basketball coaches in history. And just to make sure I impart at least one piece of basketball trivia—Golden State Warriors fixture Draymond Green, who’s a Michigan native—is a Michigan State product.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

16) University of Illinois

  • 49 NBA players
  • 1 WNBA player

The University of Illinois men’s basketball squad made a deep run in the 2024 NCAA tournament, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight before being eliminated by UConn, who’d go on to win it all. It was the Fighting Illini’s best result since winning the championship in 2005. The University of Illinois products who are current NBA players include Ayo Dosonmu of the Chicago Bulls, Malcolm Hill of the New Orleans Pelicans, Meyers Leonard of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Brandin Podziemski of the Golden State Warriors.

17) University of Connecticut

  • 43 NBA players
  • 44 WNBA players

UConn is an absolute basketball powerhouse on both the men and women’s sides. The men’s side easily ranks among the most decorated programs in the sport—their first NCAA national championship came in 1999 and they’ve been on a tear since then, winning six total and back-to-back championships in 2023 and 2024. So it’s unsurprising that the UConn men’s program has produced a plethora of NBA talent. 43 total men’s Huskies played in the NBA; just last year three UConn men’s players were drafted into the NBA, and Andre Drummond, who played for UConn from 2011-2012, is still suiting up for the Chicago Bulls. Other big names in the NBA who were once Huskies include Rudy Gay, Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, and Ray Allen.

But the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team is the premier basketball program in the country—men’s or women’s—having won a record 11 national championships and setting the record for the longest winning streak in college basketball history. It’s no wonder that UConn is one of the best NBA players colleges, period. Maya Moore, who’s one of the sport’s all time scorers, was a UConn Husky, along with other big names like Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Tina Charles.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players (Continued)

18) University of Cincinnati

  • 40 NBA players
  • 2 WNBA players

Although Cincinnati hasn’t made it beyond the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen since 2012, the Bearcats do have a winning history: they won it all in 1961 and 1962, and they’ve made the Final Four a total of six times. Kenyon Martin and Lance Stephenson are among the Cincinnati alum who went on to careers in the NBA.

Colleges with the Most NBA Players – Additional Resources 

In conclusion, we invite you to check out some of our other blogs on college athletics: