It’s every young basketball player’s dream to play for a big-time college program and make big-time dollars in the NBA. Of course, there are many different routes one can take to make that dream a reality. Do you want to play for a Hall of Fame coach? Are stellar facilities a must-have? Will a deep NCAA tournament run get you the exposure you need? As you can see, there are a number of factors players need to take into account before selecting where they’ll play collegiate ball.
To try and help determine which college program pumps out the most NBA-ready players, we decided to run some numbers using one always-important statistic – salary. Below, you’ll find the top 20 schools whose alumni currently make the most money in the league for 2013-2014, according to ESPN’s data. You may not be surprised to see which school is sitting at No. 1.
20. LSU: $23,534,293 – 5 players
The Tigers don’t boast any true NBA superstars at the moment, but they do have a number of solid veterans who will combine to make over $23 million this season. Kings guard Marcus Thornton leads the way, making just over $8 million this season, followed by serviceable power forwards Brandon Bass and Glen Davis. Anthony Randolph and Garrett Temple round out LSU’s list.
19. Arkansas: $24,326,342 – 4 players
Sometimes it only takes one, and in Arkansas’ case, that ‘one’ is Brooklyn Net Joe Johnson, who’s albatross of a contract made him considered one of the most untradeable players in the NBA—until Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov decided that he really wanted to win, and acquired Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks. Johnson makes $21,466,718 this season, while the other three Razorbacks on this list – Ronnie Brewer, Patrick Beverley, and Jannero Pargo – make under $3 million combined.
18. Michigan State: $26,265,990 – 4 players
Zach Randolph is the only legitimate superstar Spartan still in the NBA, and the salaries show that: he pulled in over $18 million for his post presence. Once-high-flying guard Jason Richardson is still cashing in over $6 million this season, while Alan Anderson and Draymond Green are making just under $1 million each.
17. Stanford: $26,848,167 – 3 players
The bulk of Stanford’s paychecks come from one family; star Nets center Brook Lopez had a break-out season last year and will make $14,693,906 for his efforts, while his brother Robin will haul in just under $6 million himself as a Portland Trail Blazer. Guard Landry Fields adds just over $6 million of his own to the total.
16. Syracuse: $28,368,406 – 4 players
Carmelo Anthony accounts for most of this total with his $21 million salary, while young guards Dion Waiters ($3.8 million) and Michael Carter-Williams ($2.2 million) come up after Melo. Waiters’ future with the Cavaliers is uncertain, though he will have a spot in the NBA for a while, but MCW should help Syracuse shoot up this list in the next few years. The Rookie of the Year favorite exploded onto the scene for the Sixers this season, and they will want to lock him up with a new contract sooner rather than later.
15. USC: $28,382,974 – 6 players
Most don’t think of USC as a program that churns out many big NBA stars, but the Trojans have three players making pretty good money in DeMar DeRozan ($9.5 million), O.J. Mayo ($8 million), and Taj Gibson ($7.5 million). Many viewed DeRozan’s contract as a bad one for the Raptors, but he has become the team’s leading scorer, and they are currently well in the playoff hunt. Outside of these three, Nikola Vucevic is in line to get a solid second NBA deal. The young forward averages 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic at just $1.8 million this season.
14. Memphis: $31,675,971 – 5 players
Memphis produced two of the more explosive (when healthy) guards in the NBA in former MVP Derrick Rose and current New Orleans Pelican Tyreke Evans. Rose is pulling in $17.6 million from the Chicago Bulls, although I’m sure they would pony up a few more million if it meant that Rose could stay on the court for a full season. Evans makes $11.8 million as one of the Pelicans strong guard trio. Elliot Williams, Will Barton, and Chris Douglas-Roberts each make under a million to add a bit to Memphis’ total.
13. Marquette: $31,900,232 – 6 players
The Golden Eagles’ combined salaries are heavily propped up by Dwyane Wade’s $18.7 million, but Wesley Matthews ($6.9 million) and Steve Novak ($3.75 million) each contribute as well. The player to watch out for is Jimmy Butler, who broke out during last year’s playoffs as a capable offensive threat and elite perimeter defender. He’s only pulling in $1.1 million this season, but is in line for a big second contract.
12. Georgetown: $32,610,774 – 6 players
Roy Hibbert’s breakout for the Indiana Pacers has done wonders for the Hoya bottom line. As one of the best pure centers in the NBA, Hibbert will make just under $14.3 million in 2013-14. Forwards Jeff Green nets $8.7 million this year, while Otto Porter, and Greg Monroe are each at just over $4 million, although Monroe should be seeing an extension soon, or he may test free agency in the off-season.
11. Wake Forest: $42,365,552 – 6 players
Wake Forest basketball has been down for a few years, but the Demon Deacons still claim two of the NBA’s top players and probable future Hall of Famers as their own. Chris Paul is widely considered the best point guard in the NBA and is paid like it, hauling in over $18.6 million this season. Tim Duncan is still an All-Star level power forward, but he has taken modest contracts in order to help the San Antonio Spurs build around him. The Big Fundamental will bring in over $10.3 million this season. Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague has been surprisingly steady this year, and makes $8 million for his efforts. Al-Farouq Aminu ($3.75 million), Ish Smith ($950,000), and James Johnson ($634,000) round out Wake’s list.