Which Michigan Program Is Among Elite At Producing NBA Talent?

Which Michigan Program Is Among Elite At Producing NBA Talent?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The state of Michigan has several college basketball programs that have produced outstanding talent over the years.

Hall of Famers the likes of Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, George Gervin, Spencer Haywood and Dave DeBusschere came out of colleges and universities in the Great Lakes State. So did All-Stars such as Juwan Howard, Dan Roundfield, Draymond Green, Kevin Willis, Rudy Tomjanovich, Dan Majerle and others.

But which Michigan college hoops program has sent the best talent on to the top level of pro basketball recently?

To find out, BetMichigan.com – your home for finding and comparing the best Michigan betting sites – looked at which school cranked out the best combined talent since the 2018 NBA Draft. With the 2023 NBA Draft coming on Thursday, we used total win shares from Basketball-Reference.com and added them up for players that entered the league from the college ranks over the past five years.

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Colleges with the Most NBA Talent Since 2018

Rank School Players Total Win Share
1KentuckyShai Gilgeous-Alexander (29), Tyrese Maxey (14.6), Jared Vanderbilt (14.3), Imannuel Quickley (14.1), PJ Washington (10.6), Tyler Herro (10.5), Keldon Johnson (10.5), Hamidou Diallo (6.2), Nick Richards (5.2), Isaiah Jackson (4.1), Shaedon Sharpe (1.2), Brandon Boston Jr. (0.6), Kevin Knox (0.3), TyTy Washington (-0.1)121.1
2DukeWendell Carter Jr. (18.1), Zion Williamson (14.2), Gary Trent Jr. (14.1), Grayson Allen (13.1), Marvin Bagley (9.3), RJ Barrett (8.1), Tre Jones (6.7), Mark Williams (2.8), Paolo Banchero (2.4), Jalen Johnson (2.2), AJ Griffin (2.2), Cam Reddish (2), Vernon Carey (0.2), Wendell Moore (0.1), Cassius Stanley (0), Trevor Keels (0)95.5
3VillanovaMikal Bridges (32.1), Jalen Brunson (26), Donte DiVincenzo (13.4), Sadiq Bey (11.1), Eric Paschall (5), Jerimiah Robinson Earl (3.4), Omari Spellman (2.4)93.4
T4Arizona DeAndre Ayton (30.9), Josh Green (5.5), Zeke Nnaji (4.3), Bennedict Mathurin (1.8), Christian Koloko (1.7), Dalen Terry (0.5), Nico Mannion (0.2)44.9
T4Michigan State Jaren Jackson (19.4), Miles Bridges (16), Xavier Tillman (8.8), Max Christie (0.6), Cassius Winston (0.1)44.9

Michigan State In Top Tier For NBA Talent

In the past several years, Michigan State has been one of the five best colleges at producing top NBA players. The Spartans have odds at anywhere from +1500 to +1600 at top Michigan sports betting apps to win the NCAA Tournament in 2024, so coach Tom Izzo’s program is expected to be strong again.

Izzo had the difficult task of replacing a legend when he took over the MSU program in the 1995-96 season, following Jud Heathcote’s 19-year tenure that included the 1979 national championship. But Izzo has become a legend himself, capturing the 2000 NCAA title and making the Final Four seven other times among 25 NCAA Tournament appearances.

He has kept up the pipeline of NBA-ready talent coming out of East Lansing, too. In fact, the Spartans are tied for fourth on our list with Arizona for producing players with the most combined total win shares since the 2018 NBA Draft, according to Basketball-Reference.

Kentucky has produced players with the most combined win shares since the 2018 Draft, followed by Duke and Villanova.

Spartans Standing Out As Young NBA Players

The leading producers in the time have been Jaren Jackson (19.4 total win shares) and Miles Bridges (16).

Jackson has been a steady contributor for the Memphis Grizzlies since they took him No. 4 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. In the 2022-23 season, the 6-foot-11 Jackson became an All-Star for the first time and averaged a career-high 18.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

He has also been a valuable presence under the boards on defense, leading the NBA two seasons in a row in blocked shots. Last season he averaged 3.0 rejections per game and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

The Grizzlies have +2400 odds to win the 2024 NBA title at Caesars Sportsbook Michigan.

Bridges was selected No. 12 overall in 2018, eight spots after his former Spartans teammate Jackson. Bridges, a 6-6 forward, was taken by the Los Angeles Clippers but was traded to Charlotte on draft night. During four seasons with the Hornets, he averaged 13.4 points a game, including a career-high 20.2 ppg in 2021-22. But he sat out all of last season as a restricted free agent after pleading no contest in November 2022 to a domestic violence charge. If he re-signs with Charlotte or elsewhere, he must sit out the first 10 games next season as his league punishment (his ban was 30 games, but the league ruled that he served 20 games of that suspension last year).

The other former Spartans on our list are Jackson’s Memphis teammate, Xavier Tillman (8.8 total win shares), Max Christie (0.6) and Cassius Winston (0.1).

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Jim Tomlin writes and edits for BetMichigan.com. In 30 years as a journalist he has worked for publications such as the Tampa Bay Times, Saturday Tradition, Saturday Down South and FanRag. He now lends his sports and gambling expertise to BetMichigan among other websites.

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