In the weeks leading up to the June 27 NBA draft, we’ll be taking a look at the 20 schools that have produced the best pros in the modern draft era (since 1989, when the draft went from seven to two rounds). Click here to read Eamonn Brennan’s explanation of the series, which will be featured in the Nation blog each morning as we count down the programs from 20 to 1.
Top Five Draftees Since 1989
Chris Bosh (2003)
Stephon Marbury (1996)
Kenny Anderson (1991)
Dennis Scott (1990)
Thaddeus Young (2007)
Sixth man: Matt Harpring (1998)
The rest: Matt Geiger, Iman Shumpert, Jarrett Jack, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, Drew Barry, Jon Barry, Tom Hammonds, Travis Best, Gani Lawal, Javaris Crittenton, Alvin Jones, Jason Collier, Dion Glover, Eddie Elisma, Mario West, Malcolm Mackey, Brian Oliver, Luke Schenscher, Fred Vinson, Ivano Newbill, Will Bynum
Why they’re ranked where they are: So you’re talking with your buddies about college basketball. Specifically, the programs that tend to produce the most NBA talent. A few powerhouses are mentioned early in the conversation. Kentucky, Connecticut, North Carolina, Duke and Florida. And then, someone has the gall to suggest that Georgia Tech should be considered, too.
Laughter ensues. “You must really like Chris Bosh, man.” And then the Yellow Jackets advocate begins to make his case. Sure, there’s Bosh. But Stephon Marbury, Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson and Matt Harpring were birthed by Georgia Tech, too. Add Jarrett Jack and Travis Best to the backcourt. Derrick Favors, a solid young big, might be the third man off the bench on GT’s all-star squad (since the 1989 NBA draft).
That’s when the snickering stops and things get real.
As we scrutinized dozens of squads that were considered for our “Path to the Draft” rankings, there were a few gems, such as Georgia Tech, that just became more impressive as our analysis persisted. This program has some serious NBA juice.
With a little research, it’s easy to see why this team is ranked ahead of Ohio State, UNLV, Kansas and Michigan State.
Let’s start with Tech's top five.
Bosh has been lukewarm throughout the playoffs, a performance that’s not exactly justifying his $17.55 million salary in 2012-13. But he has averaged 19.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 1.1 BPG since he was drafted in 2003. He has also made eight All-Star appearances. Before his confusing stretch in Miami, Bosh was an elite forward (not sure he has lost that status yet) who made folks remember that Canada still had one pro team.
Marbury has eaten Vaseline on camera. And that wasn’t the craziest thing that ever happened during his career.
But that’s Marbury. If he hadn’t made so many headlines off the floor, he might have earned more respect when he was on it. He was, however, one of the league’s best point guards when he was focused on the game.
Marbury was a two-time All-Star who averaged 19.3 PPG and 7.6 APG over a 13-year career in the NBA. He’s still competing professionally in China.
Dennis Scott’s contributions were critical for the Orlando Magic teams that pulled the expansion franchise into relevance during the mid-1990s. Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway were the main characters in that narrative, but Scott’s range (he hit 267 3-pointers in the 1995-96 season, a record that stood for a decade) was crucial for a franchise that reached the NBA Finals in 1995 and lost to the 72-10 Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals a year later. Scott averaged 17.4 PPG and hit 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers that season.
Kenny Anderson, Scott’s backcourt mate on the 1990 Georgia Tech squad that reached the Final Four, was an NBA All-Star in 1993-94. That season, Anderson averaged 18.8 PPG and 9.6 APG. He also hit 81.8 percent of his free throws. Anderson had four or five other seasons that were comparable to that one.
Matt Harpring was never a star, although that 2002-03 campaign (17.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 41.3 percent from the 3-point line, 51.1 field goal percentage) briefly thrust him into the “future star” conversation. For 12 seasons, Harpring was just a guy you wanted in your rotation. He averaged 11.5 PPG throughout a solid career.
Georgia Tech’s NBA legacy will continue to grow because the Yellow Jackets have multiple young standouts in the league right now.
Thaddeus Young is just 24. And in six seasons in the NBA, he has been one of the top wings in the league. He averaged 14.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1.8 SPG this season. Favors has the tools to anchor the Utah Jazz in the future. Iman Shumpert, Will Bynum and Jack are all reputable role players for their respective franchises, too.
That’s a strong crew of guys who’ve made a noticeable impact at the next level.
That’s why Georgia Tech is No. 12 in our “Path to the Draft” rankings.
Why they could be ranked higher: Our ratings are based on quality, not quantity. A team such as Kansas has sent more players to the league than Georgia Tech since 1989, but it hasn’t produced as many playmakers. The Yellow Jackets are responsible for 14 players who’ve amassed career averages of 8.0 PPG during the eligibility period. Sure, points aren’t everything, but that tally is proof that the Atlanta-based program has developed athletes who’ve become key members of NBA teams. They might not be studs, but they’ve been significant in their respective rotations.
Plus, this list also includes a bunch of glue guys who earned millions over lengthy careers because they were smart and efficient. Jon Barry (14 years), Tom Hammonds (13 years), Matt Geiger (10 years) and Best (10 years) qualify for the latter category. Georgia Tech has an argument for a higher ranking based on its depth and overall quality. It’s that simple.
Why they could be ranked lower: The only thing that’s keeping this crew from the top 10 is the absence of a megastar. The rest of our list includes a bunch of teams that feature household names and superstars. Georgia Tech doesn’t have that guy.
Since this isn’t a numbers game, it’s all subjective. Our past assessments suggest that star power is not only relevant but quite valuable. Kansas would not have been a top-15 squad in our rankings without Paul Pierce. Syracuse would have missed the top 20 entirely had Carmelo Anthony chosen another school.
Georgia Tech is certainly tied to a bunch of successful players who lasted in the league for lengthy stretches. But Bosh is the only perennial All-Star on the list.
That could count against this program and move them down in our rankings, I guess.
What’s ahead? There’s a strong chance that Georgia Tech will enhance its reputation for producing NBA talent in the coming years. Shumpert, Favors, Jack and Young have time to mature and improve. That’s a talented collection of young players -- a group that could produce an All-Star or two in the coming years.
Anthony Morrow, an undrafted guard, averaged 10.1 PPG, 13.0 PPG, 13.2 PPG and 12 PPG during his first four seasons in the NBA. But injuries affected him this season. A healthy Morrow, however, is a threat and a player who’s capable of contributing on any roster.
Bosh has some time left, too. His tenure in Miami has been inconsistent, but check his numbers. How many players have averaged 18.0 PPG or more in seven of 10 seasons? Not many.
Glen Rice Jr. left Georgia Tech a year ago and competed in the NBDL during the 2012-13 campaign. Per multiple draft analysts, he could be a first-round pick in this summer’s draft after a strong season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
But there’s not much in the pipeline for the program. The current roster doesn’t possess any obvious NBA prospects. Still, there are multiple Georgia Tech reps who could give the team’s NBA tradition a major boost in the next four or five years.
Final thoughts: To some, Georgia Tech’s inclusion might be somewhat of a surprise. But the squad is clearly worthy. The diversity and character of the program’s NBA products are both impressive and undeniable. Yes, the Jackets couldn’t overcome some of the blue-chip programs that will complete our rankings. But they were in the top-10 conversation.