The NBA draft is Thursday night, and the SEC should be well-represented. But is the SEC’s reputation for hoops talent catching up to its record on the gridiron?
The short answer: No.
The SEC – thanks in no small part to John Calipari’s machine in Lexington – has grown as a top source for the nation’s leading basketball prospects. But the conference remains football territory.
In only one of the past 10 years (2016) has the SEC had more top-10 NBA draft picks than top-10 NFL picks. And over the past decade (2007-16), the scorecard for top-10 SEC picks reads NFL 34, NBA 17.
The SEC’s NBA talent really suffered in 2008 and ’09, with no top-10 picks at all. In 2009, in fact, which coincided with the Billy Gillispie era at Kentucky, the conference had no players selected in the draft’s top 40.
One category that is roughly even, though, is the list of top overall picks. The SEC has had four overall No. 1s in the NBA draft during the 2007-2016 period (John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons); that’s the same number as in the NFL draft (JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney).
One thing that is noteworthy: Each of the first three players in the 2012 NBA draft were from the SEC.
The list doesn’t include players from Texas A&M or Missouri before they joined the SEC. It does include current Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who enrolled at Kentucky but never played a game for the Wildcats because of an NCAA ruling on his amateur status.
It doesn’t look as if the pattern will change this year. Three SEC players went in the top 10 of the NFL draft (Myles Garrett, Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams). Although Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are legitimate top-10 NBA prospects, and fellow Wildcat Bam Adebayo might have an outside shot, it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which the basketball top-10 contingent climbs past three. Truthfully, it wouldn’t be a surprise if only Fox goes in the top 10.
Here’s the full list of top-10 NBA and NFL draftees from 2007-16.
3 NBA (3. Al Horford, Florida/Hawks; 7. Corey Brewer, Florida/Timberwolves; 9. Joakim Noah, Florida/Bulls)
3 NFL (1. JaMarcus Russell, LSU/Raiders; 6. LaRon Landry, LSU/Redskins; 8. Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas/Falcons)
4 NFL (4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas/Raiders; 5. Glenn Dorsey, LSU/Chiefs; 8. Derrick Harvey, Florida/Jaguars; 10. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee/Patriots)
3 NFL (1. Matthew Stafford, Georgia/Lions; 3. Tyson Jackson, LSU/Chiefs; 6. Andre Smith, Alabama/Bengals)
2 NBA (1. John Wall, Kentucky/Wizards; 5. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky/Kings)
3 NFL (5. Eric Berry, Tennessee/Chiefs; 7. Joe Haden, Florida/Browns; 8. Rolando McClain, Alabama/Raiders)
2 NBA (3. Enes Kanter, Kentucky/Jazz; 8. Brandon Knight, Kentucky/Pistons)
5 NFL (1. Cam Newton, Auburn/Panthers; 3. Marcell Dareus, Alabama/Bills; 4. A.J. Green, Georgia/Bengals; 5. Patrick Peterson, LSU/Cardinals; 6. Julio Jones, Alabama/Falcons)
3 NBA (1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky/Hornets; 2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky/Bobcats; 3. Bradley Beal, Florida/Wizards)
4 NFL (3. Trent Richardson, Alabama/Browns; 6. Morris Claiborne, LSU/Cowboys; 7. Mark Barron, Alabama/Buccaneers; 10. Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina/Bills)
2 NBA (6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky/Pelicans; 8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia/Pistons)
4 NFL (2. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M/Jaguars; 6. Barkevious Mingo, LSU/Browns; 9. Dee Milliner, Alabama/Jets; 10. Chance Warmack, Alabama/Titans)
1 NBA (7. Julius Randle, Kentucky/Lakers)
4 NFL (1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina/Texans; 2. Greg Robinson, Auburn/Rams; 6. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M/Falcons; 7. Mike Evans, Texas A&M/Buccaneers)
2 NBA (1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky/Timberwolves; 6. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky/Kings)
3 NFL (3. Dante Fowler, Florida/Jaguars; 4. Amari Cooper, Alabama/Raiders; 10. Todd Gurley, Georgia/Rams)
2 NBA (1. Ben Simmons, LSU/76ers; 7. Jamal Murray, Kentucky/Nuggets)
1 NFL (9. Leonard Floyd, Georgia/Bears)
3 NFL (1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M/Browns; 4. Leonard Fournette, LSU/Jaguars; 6. Jamal Adams, LSU/Jets)
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