Future NCAA basketball stars can pop up at any school—witness Anthony Davis, a product of Chicago’s unheralded Perspectives Charter Academy—but some high school programs have made a science of turning out prime college talent year after year. Many of those schools have been renowned for decades, while others are just coming into their own.
One program in the latter category is Nevada’s Findlay Prep. In just five years of existence, the hoops powerhouse has produced an astonishing number of top-level college players, including Anthony Bennett for nearby UNLV.
Read on for a closer look at Findlay and the rest of the 20 high schools around the country that yield the most impressive college players.
Rather than considering every player a high-school program has sent to Division I, these rankings are weighted heavily towards individual stars and players who have made key contributions for major college teams. In addition, an impressive history helps a school here, but only if it’s backed up by recent productivity.
Mount Vernon’s place on this list owes a lot to an extraordinary history that goes way back to 1975 All-American Gus Williams of USC.
In the decades since, the program has generated such iconic college stars as Rodney McCray of Louisville and Ben Gordon of UConn.
More recently, the Knights have been doing their best work in Morgantown, with current West Virginia reserve Jabarie Hinds being the latest Mount Vernon success story.
He has a long way to go, though, before he equals the Mountaineer career of former Big East Player of the Year contender Kevin Jones.
A rising star on the Florida scene, Montverde Academy has turned out a slew of supporting players for high-level programs in recent seasons.
Florida State shot-blocker Solomon Alabi and Texas A&M point guard Dash Harris both wore Eagles uniforms in high school, as did Villanova sniper James Bell.
The future is looking even more impressive for the Eagles, who produced a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans this season.
Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) and Kasey Hill (Florida) are both safe bets to make their marks in the SEC before their college careers are done.
After a few years of notoriety as "the team with Michael Jordan’s son", Whitney Young has become one of the hotter programs in the country in recent seasons.
Although its history doesn’t go much beyond former DePaul standout Quentin Richardson, the team is definitely on its way up.
Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks and Ohio State highlight machine Sam Thompson have both turned in impressive college performances, and the best is yet to come. Current Dolphins star Jahlil Okafor is ESPN’s No. 1-rated recruit for the class of 2014.
If you’re looking for big-time players in very small packages, Christ the King is a great place to start.
The Queens-based program did plenty to advance New York City’s reputation as a cradle of point guards, turning out Derrick Phelps (North Carolina), Speedy Claxton (Hofstra) and Omar Cook (St. John’s) in quick succession in the 1990s.
The Royals are still producing some of the college game’s best small guards, including recent Florida star Erving Walker and current UConn standout Omar Calhoun.
Remarkably, Christ the King’s girls program is even more extraordinary than the boys’ version, having produced three of the women’s game’s greatest stars: Chamique Holdsclaw, Sue Bird and Tina Charles.
Versatility has been a hallmark of recent St. Benedict’s players, a virtue best exemplified by Villanova combo guard Corey Stokes.
Lamar Patterson, a perfect fit in a glue-guy role at Pitt, is another former Gray Bee who fills up plenty of columns on the stat sheet.
It’s no great surprise that most of the Newark school’s alumni wind up in the Big East, even if (as Louisville’s Samardo Samuels could point out) that covered an awful lot of geography before realignment.
Meanwhile, the latest potential star from St. Benedict’s is heading to a school that’s leaving the Big East, as Tyler Ennis tries to become Jim Boeheim’s next great point guard at Syracuse.
Simeon stars of the past stayed pretty close to home, whether it was Nick Anderson at Illinois or Bobby Simmons at DePaul. More recently, though, the school has turned out talents that have forced coaches across the country to take notice.
The most recent of those, Jabari Parker, is headed to Duke as the nation's No. 2-ranked recruit, while teammate Kendrick Nunn is joining the ranks of ex-Wolverines headed to Champaign-Urbana.
Talented as Parker is, he’ll need a monster freshman season to match the one turned in by Simeon’s most prominent alum, former Memphis guard (and 2011 NBA MVP) Derrick Rose.
Like the nearby Pistons of the NBA, Detroit Country Day has made a habit out of turning out top-notch defenders. Amir Williams may not be much of an offensive threat, but his shot blocking has earned him a major role at defense-happy Ohio State.
Of course, some former Yellow Jackets have turned out to be pretty impressive as scorers, too—witness recent University of Detroit star Ray McCallum.
Even McCallum's impressive college performance, though, can’t touch the program’s two most famous alumni: Duke’s Shane Battier (a Wooden Award winner and national champion) and the biggest star of Michigan’s Fab Five, Chris Webber.
The latest crop of Mater Dei hoops stars have made a major impact at the college level—just not with the schools that recruited them.
David and Travis Wear (North Carolina to UCLA), Keala King (Arizona State to Long Beach State) and Gary Franklin Jr. (Cal to Baylor) have all excelled as transfers in recent seasons.
Two more ex-Monarchs hope to emulate that success but haven’t become eligible with their new programs yet.
Versatile Tyler Lamb, late of UCLA, is following King to the 49ers, while Katin Reinhardt (coming off a strong freshman year at UNLV) is headed to USC.
Rival St. Patrick’s may have closed its doors, but New Jersey’s other basketball superpower keeps rolling along.
Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley has seen sons Bobby (the former Duke great) and Danny (now Rhode Island’s head coach) come through St. Anthony’s, along with a host of other collegiate stars.
The Friars have been turning out a wealth of perimeter talent lately, including Florida’s Mike Rosario and former Kansas PG Tyshawn Taylor.
The latest St. Anthony’s alum to make good on the Division I stage is Kyle Anderson, the would-be point forward who turned into a top target for Larry Drew II (as well as an ace rebounder) at UCLA last year.
Unsurprisingly, Rockville-based Montrose Christian has a long history of feeding the ACC powers, from Nate James (Duke) to Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) to current Blue Devils forward Josh Hairston.
However, the Mustangs are far more than just a local force when it comes to supplying Division I talent.
Villanova bruiser Mouphtaou Yarou is the most successful Montrose product in several seasons, but he’s far from the school’s most famous alum.
That would be former Texas superstar Kevin Durant, he of the four straight NBA scoring titles and (at the college level) one Wooden/Naismith Award double-dip.
One thing you can count on from New Hampton’s basketball players: they can shoot the rock. Recent Huskies Brady Heslip (Baylor) and Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) have wasted no time becoming the top long-range threats for their respective teams.
Even big men such as Noah Vonleh—the prize of Indiana’s 2013 recruiting class—come away from New Hampton with an enviable shooting touch.
It’s no surprise from a program whose history includes such impressive gunners as former North Carolina star Rashad McCants and Syracuse scoring machine Lawrence Moten.
Like many California schools, the small-forward factory at Fairfax sees most of its players stay near the Pacific Ocean for their college years.
That’s good news for the Pac-12, where Arizona just finished getting four great seasons out of Solomon Hill, and the Mountain West, where UNLV’s Chace Stanback put up impressive scoring numbers.
Other standout ex-Lions include UCLA’s Josh Shipp and (much farther back) Chris Mills of Arizona. One of the few Fairfax stars who left the West Coast behind, Sean Higgins, turned out pretty well himself, helping bring Michigan its only national title.
Tilton’s latest McDonald’s All-American, Wayne Selden, is headed to Kansas, where he’ll try to remind the country that former Rams don’t spend all their time playing defense.
For all that Georges Niang has made some noise offensively at Iowa State—and Gerard Coleman will do the same when he becomes eligible at Gonzaga—Tilton’s most successful hoopsters have been decidedly defense-first types.
Alex Oriakhi helped win a national title at UConn with rebounding and shot blocking, and even as a senior at Missouri last year he wasn’t a particular offensive force.
Neither, for much of his brief college career, was Nerlens Noel, but the Kentucky center was the best defensive weapon in the college ranks last season until he blew out his knee.
Few schools of any size can match the national shadow cast by little South Kent. Cardinals alumni have landed everywhere from St. John’s (Moe Harkless) to Washington (Isaiah Thomas), and plenty of major programs in between.
South Kent also has a great chance to land its first Wooden Award winner next season. Russ Smith. The star of defending champion Louisville has done even better in his current Cardinals jersey than he did in his old one.
Notre Dame Prep turns out so many top-tier prospects that when former Crusader Khem Birch transferred from Pitt to UNLV, the Panthers just plugged in another Notre Dame alum to replace him.
Seven-foot New Zealander Steven Adams (one of many successful international players who have come through Notre Dame) turned in a fine freshman season before jumping to the NBA.
The Crusaders are no strangers to one-and-dones, as their most famous alum is one-year wonder Michael Beasley of Kansas State.
Next season, though, they’ll be well represented in the college ranks by a pair of upperclassmen, St. Louis junior Grandy Glaze and Cincinnati senior Sean Kilpatrick.
Hargrave alum P.J. Hairston has been making headlines for the wrong reasons this offseason, but he’s just one of many ex-Tigers who have excelled on the court in the last few seasons.
Assuming Hairston is back on the floor for North Carolina in 2013-14, he’ll get another shot to match up with Maryland scoring whiz (and former Hargrave teammate) Dez Wells.
The Tigers, whose past success stories have included Sam Young at Pitt and Dee Bost at Mississippi State, can also cheer a likely breakout season from Louisvile forward Montrezl Harrell.
Harrell isn't the only impressive big man of recent Hargrave vintage: Shawn Kemp Jr. is making his mark at Washington, in the same city where his dad became an NBA sensation.
New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy is a good 1,500 miles from the University of Kansas, but the Jayhawks have learned that the trip is worthwhile.
Both Thomas Robinson and point guard heir apparent Naadir Tharpe came to Lawrence after starring at Brewster, and they’re far from the only big names the program has produced.
Former Bobcat Will Barton spent last year on the Trail Blazers’ bench after starring at Memphis, and the NBA has several more Brewster alumni coming soon.
In addition to Tharpe, next season’s ex-Brewster stars will include Jakarr Sampson of St. John’s, N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Syracuse’s C.J. Fair.
A program whose older alumni include Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley (Notre Dame) and Naismith Award winner Danny Ferry (Duke) has a lot to live up to.
Remarkably, DeMatha Catholic has managed to continue turning out college stars with minimal drop-off in quality.
The latest ex-Stag to vie for national Player of the Year honors is Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, who was neck-and-neck with Trey Burke until the NCAA tournament.
Among the other top DeMatha products have been Pitt PG James Robinson and the Grant brothers: Syracuse’s Jerami and Notre Dame’s Jerian.
When Findlay’s Nigel Williams-Goss earned McDonald’s All-America recognition, the biggest surprise was that he was the only Pilot so honored.
In the five years the program has existed, it’s been a staggeringly prolific source of elite Division I talent.
Like Williams-Goss, many of Findlay’s best alums—Texas’ Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo, Oregon’s Dominic Artis—have been point guards.
Of course, the Pilots have turned out plenty of impressive players at other positions, from shooting guard Nick Johnson (Arizona) to power forwards Tristan Thompson (Texas) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV).
When former Maryland star Steve Blake—No. 5 in Division I history in career assists—barely makes a ripple in the alumni listings, it’s safe to say you’re dealing with a big-time program.
Oak Hill Academy, the school that produced Carmelo Anthony and boasts 10 active NBA players among its alums, is an unstoppable force when it comes to turning out basketball talent.
Next season’s crop of former Warriors will be headlined by UCLA’s Jordan Adams, back from the foot injury that wrecked the Bruins’ postseason.
He’s far from alone, though, with point guards Quinn Cook (Duke) and Tyler Lewis (N.C. State) and fellow scorer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown) also primed for stellar seasons.