College Basketball's 15 Best Coaches at Churning out NBA Studs

Ross Bentley@@imrossbentleySenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2012

College Basketball's 15 Best Coaches at Churning out NBA Studs

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    Plain and simple, the most successful college basketball teams are the ones who produce the most talent, who at some point will advance to the NBA.

    Some successful college teams have had little to no NBA talent on their roster, and some coaches prefer it that way to avoid having to worry about players leaving the program early. For most college coaches, if they could win games with players who would stick around for four years, keep their grades up and stay out of trouble, you bet they would.

    But that is simply not the case. 

    For premier college-level coaches, it is up to them to recruit top-notch high school players who will one day go on to play in the pros. It is also up to them to hone their players' skills so that when they are ready to move on to the next level, they are fully prepared.

    But which college coaches do the best job of finding and creating NBA talent? Here is a look at the top 15 currently coaching today. 

15. Scott Drew, Baylor

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    Despite taking over a program in shambles, Scott Drew has turned Baylor into a Big 12 powerhouse, and one that produces an influx of NBA talent.

    Drew's first NBA player was Ekpe Udoh, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. He also had three players drafted in this year's draft: Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller. 

14. Tom Crean, Indiana

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    Although he hasn't brought any players to the NBA yet at Indiana, Tom Crean did manage to produce four NBA players during his tenure at Marquette, most notably Dwyane Wade.

    He also coached former NBA player Travis Diener and the 2011-2012 three-point field goal percent leader, Steve Novak of the New York Knicks.

    Also, don't be surprised to see many more of Crean's players make the jump to the pros now that he has established a program at Indiana, including standout Cody Zeller who will likely follow in his brother's path and become an NBA lottery pick. 

    Crean also has one of the top recruiting classes in the game for 2013, which could include as many as five future NBA players. 

13. John Thompson III: Georgetown

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    Following in the footsteps of his father, who coached players such as Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson, John Thompson III has also been able to produce a fair amount of NBA talent during his tenure as a Hoya.

    Thompson's players of note in the NBA include Roy Hibbert, the blossoming center for the Indiana Pacers, Celtics swing man Jeff Green and Greg Monroe, the leading scorer and rebounder of the Detroit Pistons. He also coached NBA player DaJuan Summers.

12. Lorenzo Romar, Washington

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    Although Lorenzo Romar's success at Washington has been inconsistent, one thing he can hang his hat on is the amount of NBA talent he has been able to produce as coach of the Huskies.

    Romar has coached 12 future NBA players over his career (11 at Washington, one at St. Louis). The best among that group has been Brandon Roy, who produced six great seasons in Portland before being forced into retirement. He is attempting to make a comeback this season with the Timberwolves.

    Romar also has coached Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Isaiah Thomas and two players taken in the 1st round of this year's draft, Tony Wroten Jr. and Terrence Ross among others. 

11. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

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    Although you would think Tom Izzo would have produced more than 13 NBA players during his tenure at Michigan State considering the success he has had, that is still more than most college coaches can claim.

    Izzo's former players who have made the jump include long-time sharp-shooter Morris Peterson, two-time Slam Dunk Champion Jason Richardson, 2010 All-Star Zach Randolph and two-time NBA Champion Shannon Brown.

10. Rick Barnes, Texas

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    Since taking over the Longhorns in 1998, Texas head coach Rick Barnes has produced over 15 NBA players who came through the Longhorns system.

    Leading the way is Kevin Durant, who spent just one season with Texas before turning himself into an NBA superstar. Other notable players to play under Barnes are LaMarcus Aldridge, the Portland Trail Blazers All-Star, Avery Bradley, the starting shooting guard for the Boston Celtics and veteran point guard T.J. Ford.

9. Rick Pitino, Louisville

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    During his career at Providence, Kentucky and Louisville, Rick Pitino has become not only one of the most respected coaches in the game, but also one of the best at getting players to the pros.

    Pitino has coached countless future NBA players. At Kentucky he coached players such as Antoine Walker, Jamal Mashburn and Ron Mercer.  At Louisville, current NBA players Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels and Francisco Garcia all played under Pitino.

    Although he hasn't coached a superstar, Pitino has produced plenty of capable NBA players who went on to have successful pro careers. 

8. Ben Howland, UCLA

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    Despite their recent struggles, UCLA remains the most decorated program in men's college basketball history. 

    Ben Howland has done his part to continue the legacy of the program, taking the team to three straight Final Fours from '06-'08. 

    He has also coached some great NBA players who are making a name for themselves in the league.

    Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love top the list, but Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are other notable players to have been under the tutelage of Howland at UCLA.

7. Billy Donovan, Florida

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    Billy Donovan, a former NBA player himself, has had plenty of success in getting player to the pros over his 16-year stint as head coach at Florida.

    Donovan has produced over a dozen NBA players, seven of which have been first round draft picks.

    Some of note include: Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, who both were on the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat, Chandler Parsons, Joakim Noah, David Lee, Jason Williams and this year's third overall pick, Bradley Beal.

6. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

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    Since taking over the reigns to the Syracuse men's basketball program in 1976, Jim Boeheim has seen nothing but success in his time in upstate New York.

    This has included dozens of NBA players who went through Syracuse to get to their pro careers. Recently, Syracuse alums have been busts for the most part in the NBA, however Boeheim still puts together a talented list of NBA stars who played under him.

    Leading the way is Carmelo Anthony, who led Syracuse to Boeheim's only National Championship in 2003 and has gone on to become one of the NBA's top players. Other standouts include Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, Danny Schayes, Sherman Douglas and Billy Owens.

    Dion Waiters from Syracuse was the latest member of the Orange to go in the lottery, getting selected fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2012 draft.

5. Bill Self, Kansas

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    After coaching Michael Ruffin at Tulsa and recruiting several future NBA players at Illinois (including Deron Williams), Bill Self has been tremendous in his ability to get future pros to play under him at Kansas. 

    Self has coached 18 NBA players in just nine years at Kansas—for all of you non-mathematicians, that's two NBA players per season that he has coached.

    Standouts from that list at Kansas include Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, the Morris brothers Marcus and Markieff, Darrell Arthur and this year's No. 5 overall pick, Thomas Robinson.

4. Roy Williams, North Carolina

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    While it isn't exactly rocket science convincing people to play college basketball at Kansas or North Carolina, Roy Williams still has done a great job churning out NBA talent during his coaching career.

    Between Kansas and UNC, Williams has coached 29 future pros. The list may have some very familiar names on it.

    At Kansas, the notable's are Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Paul Pierce, Greg Ostertag and Raef Lafrentz.

    At UNC there are names such as Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Ed Davis. Not to mention the four UNC players taken in the first round of this year's NBA draft.

3. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut

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    Even at the ripe old age of 70, Jim Calhoun is still producing NBA talent.

    Jeremy Lamb was the latest Huskie to be drafted, going 12th in this year's draft, but he is only one of 28 players who have played pro basketball after playing under Jim Calhoun.

    After coaching future NBA All-Star Reggie Lewis at Northeastern, Calhoun has turned UConn into an NBA breeding powerhouse in college hoops.

    Some of the greats that Calhoun has brought through his system include Clifford Robinson, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay and Kemba Walker. 

2. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

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    When he finally decides to hang it up, Coach K may go down as the greatest college basketball coach to ever live, so it's no surprise he ranks near the top at producing NBA players.

    Since taking over in 1980, Krzyzewski has sent 41 players to the NBA, many of whom are still going strong.

    Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Shane Battier, Danny Ferry, Johnny Dawkins, J.J. Redick and Kyrie Irving are amongst the biggest stars in the NBA to come from Duke under Coach K.

1. John Calipari, Kentucky

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    Say what you want about his previous transgressions, his abrasive attitude or his one-and-done type philosophy, John Calipari is a winner at the college level and he produces top NBA talent at a rapid pace.

    Calipari coached Marcus Camby when he was the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of UMass. At Memphis he coached future MVP and No. 1 overall pick Derrick Rose, as well as Chris Douglas-Roberts, Tyreke Evans and eight other future NBA players.

    Since going to Kentucky, his NBA turnout has been unparalleled. In just three seasons, Calipari has produced 15 NBA draft picks, including six in this years draft, which included the first and second overall picks, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

    Other notable players Calipari has coached at Kentucky are former No. 1 pick John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. 

    All of which make him the current No. 1 college coach at producing NBA talent, and to be honest, it's not even close.


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