What the Sweet 16 seeds look like based solely on the NBA careers of their alums
You might think Kentucky would be No. 1 — you’d be wrong
With No. 16 University of Maryland Baltimore County’s historic upset against No. 1 Virginia to the never-before-seen scenario (since seeding began in 1979) where the top four seeds of a bracket failed to reach the Sweet 16 (South), we’ve already witnessed the most shocking NCAA tournament ever.
By now you’ve seen the remaining teams examined, dissected and hypothetically re-seeded.
But how would the seeds look if based on the NBA careers of players who hail from the 16 schools?
We offer that to you, complete with the most talented player from each school, and a historical starting five (based on their NBA careers).
Let’s take a look:
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Josh Jackson, 2017 (Phoenix Suns, fourth pick)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 33
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Wilt Chamberlain
NBA STARTING FIVE: Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, Jo Jo White, Joel Embiid, Clyde Lovellette
SCOUTING REPORT: The presence of Chamberlain alone — the only NBA player to score 100 points in a game, and the only player to lead the league in scoring, rebounds and assists in a single season — makes this the team to beat. The backcourt with current and future Hall of Famers (White and Pierce) has great balance. Never heard of Lovellette? He’s a three-time NBA champion and a four-time NBA All-Star who was the first to play on teams that won an NCAA title (1952, where he was also the Most Outstanding Player), an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title. Bolstered by a long bench featuring Danny Manning, Drew Gooden, Andrew Wiggins, Kirk Hinrich and Mario Chalmers, the Jayhawks are the overwhelming favorite.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: D.J. Wilson, 2017 (Milwaukee Bucks, 17th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 26
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Chris Webber
NBA STARTING FIVE: Webber, Glen Rice, Rudy Tomjanovich, Roy Tarpley, Cazzie Russell
SCOUTING REPORT: Webber’s ability to score and board (20.6 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game in his NBA career) and the toughness of five-time NBA All-Star forward Tomjanovich are perfect complements to Tarpley holding down the middle. Rice and swingman Russell round out the top five with help from the bench that includes Jalen Rose, Jamal Crawford and Juwan Howard.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: Three players in 2017: De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings, fifth pick), Malik Monk (Charlotte Hornets, 11th pick), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat, 14th pick)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND PICKS: 47
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Anthony Davis
NBA STARTING FIVE: Davis, Dan Issel, John Wall, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins
SCOUTING REPORT: Anthony Davis gets front-line support from the tough-as-nails Issel, one of the game’s original stretch-4s. With Rondo running the offense, Wall needs to adjust to playing without the ball in his hand all the time. Strong bench includes Jamal Mashburn, Tayshaun Prince, Antoine Walker, Devin Booker, Rex Chapman and Cliff “Li’l Abner” Hagan.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Tyler Lydon in 2017 (Utah Jazz, 24th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 24
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Carmelo Anthony
NBA STARTING FIVE: Anthony, Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, Billy Owens
SCOUTING REPORT: This team has two NBA scoring champions in Anthony and Bing. One of the most versatile forwards the NBA’s ever seen in Coleman, who scored inside and out and pounded the boards. A center who held his own against all comers in Seikaly. The bench is good but not great, with Dion Waiters, Sherman Douglas, Louis Orr and the late Pearl Washington.
DUKE BLUE DEVILS
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: Three picks in 2017: Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics, third), Luke Kennard (Detroit Pistons, 12th), Harry Giles (Portland Trail Blazers, 20th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 42
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Grant Hill
NBA STARTING FIVE: Hill, Kyrie Irving, J.J. Redick, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand
SCOUTING REPORT: Expect Irving to one day emerge as the greatest player in Duke history, which will be quite the accomplishment considering Hill’s amazing talent until injuries curtailed his career. Boozer and Brand are indicative of quite a few Duke bigs: great college players who were merely good in the NBA. Quite a long bench with Christian Laettner, Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, Brandon Ingram and Mike Gminski. Just not championship-caliber here.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Jonathan Isaac, 2017 (Orlando Magic, sixth)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 12
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Dave Cowens
STARTING FIVE: Cowens, Sam Cassell, Charlie Ward, George McCloud, Bobby Sura
SCOUTING REPORT: Cowens was listed at 6 feet, 9 inches, and that’s questionable. Regardless of height, his credentials were legit as a stretch-5 (Rookie of the Year, league MVP and a spot on the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list). Lots of solid guards, led by the brilliant basketball mind of two-time NBA champion Cassell. But the lack of size and lack of a deep bench prevent a deep run.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Trevor Booker in 2010 (Minnesota Timberwolves, 23rd pick)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 8
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Larry Nance
NBA STARTING FIVE: Nance, Elden Campbell, Horace Grant, Dale Davis, Trevor Booker
SCOUTING REPORT: Deepest front line in the field, led by Nance (17 points, 7.9 rebounds per game in his NBA career). Grant contributed to four NBA titles. Davis is high on the list of NBA players you didn’t want to flex on. But the lack of quality guards limits this group’s success.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Josh Hart, 2017 (Utah Jazz, 30th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 12
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Paul Arizin
STARTING FIVE: Arizin, Kyle Lowry, Jim Washington, Kerry Kittles, Tim Thomas
SCOUTING REPORT: Hall of Famer Arizin was one of the best scorers of the 1950s (he averaged 22.8 points and retired with the third-best scoring average in NBA history). A decade later, Washington was beginning his solid pro career in which he averaged 10.5 points per game while playing as a 6-foot-7 center. A lot of good NBA players off the bench with Doug West, Ed Pinckney and Rory Sparrow.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Caleb Swanigan, 2017 (Portland Trail Blazers, 26th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 8
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Glenn Robinson
NBA STARTING FIVE: Robinson, Joe Barry Carroll, Brad Miller, Herm Gilliam, Terry Dischinger
SCOUTING REPORT: Forget the moodiness that kept Robinson from getting the respect he deserved during his NBA career. His jumper was picture-perfect, helping him to average 20.7 points per game over his career to go with 6.1 rebounds. Robinson is forced to carry too much of a burden in this scenario. Carroll will post numbers, and Miller provides toughness. But with no impactful guards, this team would have trouble getting into its offense.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Michael Beasley, 2008 (Miami Heat, second)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND PICKS: 8
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Mitch Richmond
NBA STARTING FIVE: Richmond, Rolando Blackman, Bob Boozer, Beasley, Mike Evans
SCOUTING REPORT: Richmond (Hall of Fame, 2014) could get any shot he wanted in averaging 21 points per game as a pro. Blackman averaged 18 and was the top scorer in Dallas Mavericks franchise history until his record was broken by Dirk Nowitzki. Points matter, and occasionally Beasley might offer some assistance. But not enough consistent firepower, especially off a thin bench.
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Joe Alexander, 2008 (Milwaukee Bucks, eighth)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 6
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Jerry West
NBA STARTING FIVE: West, Rod Thorn, Hot Rod Hundley, Fred Schaus, Ron Williams
SCOUTING REPORT: Listen to West and you wonder how such a pleasant man could have been such a cold-blooded assassin. Whether it was scoring or defense, this NBA champion, scoring champion, 14-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive first-team member lived up to his “Mr. Clutch” nickname. Unfortunately, this team has no size and no depth, giving it no real chance.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Acie Law, 2007 (Atlanta Hawks, 11th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 3
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Khris Middleton
NBA STARTING FIVE: Middleton, DeAndre Jordan, Antoine Wright, Sonny Parker, Donald Sloan
SCOUTING REPORT: Beyond rim protector Jordan, there’s not a lot here. No high-scoring guard, no bench, no chance.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Zach Collins, 2017 (Portland Trail Blazers, 10th)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 7
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: John Stockton
NBA STARTING FIVE: Stockton, Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk, Domantas Sabonis, Austin Daye
SCOUTING REPORT: Stockton is, by far, the most popular player in Gonzaga’s history and emerged as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Besides Stockton, the lack of experience prevents a deep run. Too bad NBA Adam Morrison never resembled college Adam Morrison.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Tony Battie, 1997 (Denver Nuggets, fifth)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 1
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Battie
NBA STARTING FIVE: Battie, Geoff Huston, Mark Davis, Jason Sasser, Darvin Ham
SCOUTING REPORT: As the youth might say: Slim. Pickings. Which is shocking because you would think the school would have developed more NBA talent. Not a single Texas Tech player who has reached the NBA has ever averaged double figures. If you can’t score, you can’t win.
NEVADA WOLF PACK
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Luke Babbitt, 2010 (Minnesota Timberwolves, 16th pick)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: 3
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Ramon Sessions
NBA STARTING FIVE: Sessions, JaVale McGee, Edgar Jones, Johnny High, Kirk Snyder
SCOUTING REPORT: The total number of Nevada players ever drafted into the NBA is eight. Kentucky does that in two years. No, Nevada has never been a basketball factory. And, in this scenario, it’s “In JaVale McGee we trust.” Too much of a load for the NBA champion backup center and Washington Wizards backup guard Sessions, who is playing with his eighth team in 10 years. There is no No. 15 vs. No. 2 upset here.
LAST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Alfredrick Hughes, 1985 (San Antonio Spurs, 14th pick)
TOTAL FIRST-ROUND PICKS: 4
BEST NBA PLAYER IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Jack Kerris
NBA STARTING FIVE: Kerris, Alfredrick Hughes, LaRue Martin, Mike Novak, Mickey Rottner
SCOUTING REPORT: Let’s start by putting some “Respek” on Loyola’s name. The school started four black players during the 1962-63 season, breaking a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Of course, the season ended with the school’s only NCAA national championship. That said, you have to go back to 1949 to find the player, Kerris, with the most NBA success. The school’s second-best player? That’s LaRue Martin, who is often mentioned as the worst top draft pick in NBA history. So the chances of getting out of this field? Impossible.