Research

How much time did NBA stars spend in college?

howard vs duncan

Much is said during March Madness about how great college basketball is and what a smart decision is to play four years there. The former is very true (if you’re into it) and the latter may also be accurate for many. But this is true too: Four-year players rarely turn into NBA stars anymore. Or if you want to turn the argument, you can say players that have star written all over them see no merit in staying in school for a long time… and they don’t.

Per our research, only four times have players who stayed in college till their senior year made an All-NBA Team in the last five years. Those would be Tim Duncan (twice), who left Wake Forest in 1997, David Lee and Damian Lillard. That’s four out of the last 75 All-NBA selections. It’s a big change from the early and mid 90’s, when four-year players were prevalent on All-NBA Teams.

As the floodgates opened for high school and international players, college seniors basically dissappeared from All-NBA Teams. There were 11 of those in the 1991-92 All-NBA Teams. There’s never been more than four since the 21st century began.

The number of All-NBA Team members with at least some college experience has grown recently since NBA franchises have not been allowed to draft high school players after 2005, but those have largely been replaced with one-and-dones and guys who left college right after their sophomore seasons.

All-NBAers in 2012 combined for an all-time low 10 years of college experience (0.66 on average). For three seasons in a row after that, it’s been double that figure, but still a far cry from 1991-92, when they combined for 56 seasons in college (3.73 on average).

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