Kentucky or Duke: Which sent more to the NBA, and which had better NBA careers?

We all know that Kentucky and Duke are two of the biggest college powerhouses, and send multiple players to the NBA. But which college sends more players? Which college’s players have more success?

Duke has been a powerhouse since around 1992, when they had star Christian Laettner. He played on the Dream Team, and was coached by none other then Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K. In 40 years with Duke, starting in 1980, Coach K led the Duke Blue Devils to 5 NCAA championships, 12 Final Four appearances, 15 ACC championships, and 12 ACC regular season titles. In 40 years, his all time record with the school is 1,084-291. Coach K is 73 years old, and is a living legend.

Kentucky, on the other hand, only became a basketball powerhouse more recently, with the arrival of Coach John Calipari. He left Memphis in 2008 and became head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats in 2009. Now, I know that this seems really unfair, comparing a decade of Kentucky basketball to 4 decades of Duke. But, Kentucky has more one and done players, so we are going to count players from both schools going as far back as the 1940s. So let’s get into it.

When it comes to producing basketball players, Kentucky beats Duke, even though Duke has been a powerhouse for longer. Some players from Kentucky are Anthony Davis, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Darius Miller, Rajon Rondo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jamal Murray, Julius Randle, Brandon Knight, Skai Labissiere, De’Aaron Fox, Nerlens Noel, Malik Monk, Patrick Patterson, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Tayshaun Prince, Joe Crawford, Hamidou Diablo, Shia Gilgeous-Alexander, Enes Kanter, Kevin Knox, Jodie Meeks, and PJ Washington, just to name a few. I’m just taking players from 2000 to name, but Kentucky had players go pro before the 2000s. In total, there are 118 NBA players that came from Kentucky. 118!

Duke, on the other hand, has had 83 NBA players come through its college program, with the most notable being Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson, Jabari Parker, and JJ Redick, to name a few. They have a lot more. They have the 4th most players to go pro, behind UCLA, UNC, and you guessed it, Kentucky.

So Kentucky has sent more players to the NBA. But who has more success in the league?

On surface is looks like Kentucky, but it could also be Duke. So I went through the very long and painful process of going through every player I could find and see their success. So here are the MVPs, All-Stars, and Championships won by Duke and Kentucky players.

Championships in NBA:

Kentucky: 20

Duke: 6

All-Star Appearences:

Kentucky: 26

Duke: 26


Kentucky: 0

Duke: 0


Kentucky: 118

Duke: 83

So as you can see from the stats above, while both schools are very good, Kentucky players have more success in the league, especially when it comes to championships. Other then that, both schools are pretty equal, but it should be mentioned that Kentucky produced more all star players then Duke, even though they got the same amount of all star appearances.

So as you can see, Kentucky has produced more NBA players. As for success? Well, Kentucky players also seem to have a little bit more success in the league.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, make sure to like, and as always, have an awesome day!


One thought on “Kentucky or Duke: Which sent more to the NBA, and which had better NBA careers?

  1. Very interesting comparison. I can’t help but wonder what Coach Calipari ‘s record will be after 4 decades with Kentucky. He is off to a great start. My question is who is the best Basketball teacher. I pick Coach K. Only time will tell. Good job and great topic.


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