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UConn named #3 in ESPN’s Path to the Draft Series


Kevin C. Cox

For those of you unfamiliar, ESPN has been running a feature titled “Path to the Draft”, a look at which schools have done the best job placing players in the NBA since 1989 when the draft switched from seven to two rounds.

I giggled like a school girl when I saw Syracuse kick things off at #20, and then became progressively excited as the list continued and UConn was yet to be mentioned. I was positive we would land at 4 or 5 and was absolutely shocked to see us get the 3 spot in front of Kentucky and Duke. Perhaps the best part of this article was when they answered the question, “Why could they be ranked lower”:

Why they could be ranked lower: I don't think they could. No. 4 Kentucky and No. 5 Duke both have similar dynamics at work -- lots of products, plenty of solid pro careers, and their fair share of busts, too -- but neither group has a player with a career like Allen's. (Grant Hill comes closest, but those devastating injuries make it harder to put him on the mountaintop.) So, no. UConn might have an argument to move up; it's much harder to justify the opposite direction.

So awesome that the writer admits to conservatively ranking us third. I think #1 and 2 are going to be UNC and Georgetown.

My hope is that recruits look at this the same way law school and business school candidates look at job-placement rankings for the schools they are considering. A previous story had us at #2 behind Duke in terms of salary earned by alumni in the NBA, and now ESPN is crediting us with doing the 3rd best job in the past 24 years of putting players in the league. That is a very strong platform for Kevin Ollie to use in recruiting and a pattern that should continue as Napier, Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Purvis and Danny Hamilton could all end up being high to mid-first round draft picks across the next few years. Furthermore, while Ray Ray, Caron Butler and Rip’s careers are winding down, Drummond, Walker, Lamb and a few other promising youngsters are striving to make Husky tracks across the league to continue to bolster our reputation.

I can often be found out in public pounding the table about our status as an elite basketball program, and yet people still seem to push back with names like Syracuse, Michigan, Michigan State, UCLA, Kansas as better or more prestigious programs. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to the two most important things: winning and making money, very few have done better. I’m sure many of you have experienced very similar arguments, please start using this type of information to make the case. I know many of these people arguing against us typically don't bother themselves with things like “facts” and “statistical evidence” (cough- Syracuse, BC- cough, cough) but try your best.