Wildcats Maintain NBA Draft Dominance Ahead of Other Blue Bloods

Wildcats Maintain NBA Draft Dominance Ahead of Other Blue Bloods
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The University of Kentucky continues to serve as a prolific talent factory, producing the most NBA-ready players year after year, surpassing blue-blood rival programs like Duke and Villanova based on the last five years.

The Wildcats across hypothetical Kentucky sports betting have earned a reputation for consistently attracting elite high school prospects and developing them into a one-and-done product ready for the NBA Draft, a staple under coach John Calipari.

Perhaps it is not the best recipe to win an NCAA Championship, but it certainly generates exposure to become an after-sought program for the top high school players in the nation and continue the Kentucky-NBA brotherhood tradition.

Kentucky has nurtured the most NBA draft picks in the last five years, ahead of Duke, Villanova, Arizona, and Michigan State, in that order. That streak will likely continue past Thursday’s draft as freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston are projected first-round picks.

In a draft that consists of the consensus No. 1 overall pick in generational talent, Victor Wembanyama, the rest of the night will be enticing for backers to find great value within the next four selections done after the Frenchman.

With the 2023 NBA Draft coming up, BetKentucky.com took a look at which college programs have produced the most NBA talent over the past five years, utilizing total win shares from Pro-Basketball-Reference.com. Here are the results.

Colleges with the Most NBA Talent Since 2018

Rank School Players Total Win Share
1KentuckyShai Gilgeous-Alexander (29), Tyrese Maxey (14.6), Jarred Vanderbilt (14.3), Imannuel Quickley (14.1), PJ Washington (10.6), Tyler Herro (10.5), Keldon Johnson (10.5), Hamidou Diallo (6.2), Nick Richards (5.2), Isaiah Jackson (4.1), Shaedon Sharpe (1.2), Brandon Boston Jr. (0.6), Kevin Knox (0.3), TyTy Washington (-0.1)121.1
2DukeWendell Carter Jr. (18.1), Zion Williamson (14.2), Gary Trent Jr. (14.1), Grayson Allen (13.1), Marvin Bagley (9.3), RJ Barrett (8.1), Tre Jones (6.7), Mark Williams (2.8), Paolo Banchero (2.4), Jalen Johnson (2.2), AJ Griffin (2.2), Cam Reddish (2), Vernon Carey (0.2), Wendell Moore (0.1), Cassius Stanley (0), Trevor Keels (0)95.5
3VillanovaMikal Bridges (32.1), Jalen Brunson (26), Donte DiVincenzo (13.4), Sadiq Bey (11.1), Eric Paschall (5), Jeremiah Robinson Earl (3.4), Omari Spellman (2.4)93.4
T4Arizona DeAndre Ayton (30.9), Josh Green (5.5), Zeke Nnaji (4.3), Bennedict Mathurin (1.8), Christian Koloko (1.7), Dalen Terry (0.5), Nico Mannion (0.2)44.9
T4Michigan State Jaren Jackson (19.4), Miles Bridges (16), Xavier Tillman (8.8), Max Christie (0.6), Cassius Winston (0.1)44.9

Wildcats Talent Pipeline Continues to Grow

Kentucky’s win share is, by far, the best in the NBA, ahead of Duke’s 95.5 points. The Wildcats’ talent pool is led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyrese Maxey, both first-round draft picks in the 2018 and 2020 NBA drafts, respectively. Gilgeous-Alexander’s total win share points is third on the entire list with 29, trailing only the Brooklyn Nets' Mikal Bridges and Phoenix Suns' DeAndre Ayton, who have a 32.1 and 30.9 point win share.

In a breakout year for the Thunder’s star point guard, Gilgeous-Alexander finished fifth in the 2023 NBA MVP voting, second in the NBA’s Most Improved Player award voting, and earned a first-team All-NBA selection, indicating his significant contributions to the team’s growing success.

The Sixers’ emerging star, Tyrese Maxey, was key to the franchise’s conference semifinal run against the Boston Celtics. Averaging 20.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists, Maxey is perhaps overshadowed by the team’s notable duo, James Harden and the 2023 NBA MVP, Joel Embiid. However, his end-of-season stats massively improved and he is a protected star that will be locked with the City of Brotherly Love for the foreseeable future.

There are five additional Wildcats with double-digit win share points: Jarred Vanderbilt, Immanuel Quickley, PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson. Herro was the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year and part of a Heat squad that advanced to the 2023 NBA Finals as an eighth seed, eventually falling to the Denver Nuggets. Herro was injured for the playoffs, though.

The University of Kentucky not only produces NBA talent on a yearly basis, but makes successful ones as well,  based on their end-of-year recognition. Much credit is due to  Calipari, who has invested heavily in the Wildcats program, pushing them to be one of the most desirable institutions in the country.

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Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the Kentucky sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

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