- Tom Haberstroh
Not everyone can be a UConn fan today.
For the supporters of the other 350 Division I college programs on Tuesday morning looking for something to feel good about, I have just the thing. No, you don't have bragging rights when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but your school may have the upper hand in another competition.
Which college programs tend to outperform expectations in the NBA draft?
After all, college is just the start of a long journey of bringing glory to the school. If you've ever been around a fan of big-time programs like the Kentucky Wildcats, North Carolina Tar Heels, Duke Blue Devils, Kansas Jayhawks or UCLA Bruins, chances are you've heard them brag about their products at the next level. And they're louder than ever now after watching UConn climb the ladders. So, do your school's products tend to do better than UConn products?
Let's put some actual numbers to it.
To that end, I've pulled up the DRAFT Initiative study that analyzes each and every one of the 1,442 picks of the modern NBA draft since it went to a two-round format back in 1989. We already turned the microscope on GMs last week and the value of second-rounders back in February, but now it's time to put the spotlight on the colleges.
So how do you measure collegiate success at the next level? We've used John Hollinger's estimated wins added (EWA) metric, which is based on PER, to calculate how many wins each pick produced in the league. We then ran a regression analysis to determine the expected value for each pick historically once we found out the output at each slot. From there, we pinned each draft pick to the college that the prospect attended and then tracked how well they did in the league.
The key for this study is that we're looking at outperforming expectations, not necessarily getting picked. University of the Pacific fans aren't exactly beating their chests over Michael Olowokandi. Likewise, we know that Kentucky sends fleets of prospects to the NBA every year, but what we want to know is whether they're good bets in the draft. To do that, we assigned each draft pick to an expected value based on the regression analysis of draft slots and then observed whether they outdid or came up short on expectations.
Lastly, we decided to limit the field to those schools who have at least 10 players taken in the draft. Sure, Santa Clara University might have produced a Hall of Famer in Steve Nash, but that's a DRAFT Initiative one-hit wonder. We're looking for consistent results at the next level. The 10-pick qualifier leaves us with 44 schools to break down ahead of the draft on June 26.
So which schools tend to surprise in the NBA?
Let's get to it.
Tom Haberstroh uses his DRAFT Initiative database and examines which colleges are the best and worst at producing NBA draft picks.