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Daniel Wilco | | July 30, 2021

College basketball teams with the most NBA 1st-round draft picks

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Since the NBA draft's inception in 1947, around 1,500 players have been drafted in the first round. About 90 percent of those players came from a Division I school. Chances are, if you picked one at random, they'd have worn blue in college.

The 2021 NBA first round concluded July 29. The Detroit Pistons led off the night drafting Oklahoma State sensation Cade Cunningham as the first overall pick. It's the highest selection in Cowboy basketball history and the first time since Bob Fenimore in 1947 that an Oklahoma State athlete went No. 1 overall in a professional draft.

In 2020, Georgia star Anthony Edwards went No. 1 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Edwards was the first player from UGA to go No. 1 overall and the Bulldogs' ninth first-round pick.

Here’s how the top 20 schools stack up going following the 2021 draft:

College basketball teams with the most NBA first-round draft picks

Rank College Conference First-round picks
1 Kentucky SEC 55
2 North Carolina ACC 53
3 Duke ACC 49
4 UCLA Pac-12 39
5 Kansas Big 12 33
6 Michigan Big Ten 28
7 Indiana Big Ten 26
8 Arizona Pac-12 24
8 Louisville Atlantic Coast 24
8 Syracuse Atlantic Coast 24
11 Ohio State Big Ten 23
12 Michigan State Big Ten 21
12 Connecticut Big East 21
14 Notre Dame ACC 20
14 Maryland Big Ten 20
16 Georgia Tech ACC 19
16 Texas Big 12 19
18 Alabama SEC 17
18 Tennessee SEC 17
20 North Carolina State ACC 16
20 LSU SEC 16
20 Minnesota Big Ten 16
20 St. John's (NY) Big East 16

No big surprises there. The top 10 schools account for more than half of the NCAA championships alone.

Since 1947, 70 top overall picks have come from NCAA Division I schools. Two have come from overseas, and three from high school.

No schools have seen more No. 1 picks than Duke, which has seen four.

Duke’s four are Art Heyman (1963, New York Knicks), Elton Brand (1999, Chicago Bulls), Kyrie Irving (2011, Cleveland Cavaliers) and Zion Williamson (2019, New Orleans Pelicans).

In all, 46 schools have had at least one No. 1 pick taken.

Here’s how the top schools rank:

Rank College Conference No. 1 overall picks
1 Duke ACC 4
2 Kentucky SEC 3
3 North Carolina ACC 2
3 UCLA Pac-12 2
3 Kansas Big 12 2
3 Indiana Big Ten 2
3 Michigan Big Ten 2
3 Maryland Big Ten 2
3 UNLV Mountain West 2
3 Georgetown Big East 2
3 Utah Pac-12 2
3 Houston AAC 2
3 Cincinnati AAC 2
3 Purdue Big Ten 2
3 Kansas State Big 12 2
3 West Virginia Big 12 2
3 UTEP Conference USA 2
3 Duquesne Atlantic 10 2

Having North Carolina second in overall picks, and Duke with the most No. 1 picks, should clue you in to which conference reigns supreme in the NBA draft.

Through 2020, the Atlantic Coast Conference has had an impressive 275 players drafted in the first round, approximately 20 percent of all Division I players drafted. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are right behind the ACC.

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