UK leads nation with 24 players on NBA rosters

Former Wildcats Willie Cauley-Stein (left) and Demarcus Cousins (right) join head coach John Calipari on stage during Big Blue Madness on Friday, October 14, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Kevin Erpenbeck

With the 2016-17 NBA season nearly upon us, Opening Day rosters have been released, and there’s lot of Kentucky roots on them. 

In fact, UK leads all other college programs in the nation by having 24 players on an active NBA roster. To put things in perspective, 5.35 percent of the 449 players currently in the NBA this season have played at UK.

Head coach John Calipari also leads all other college coaches by having 24 of his former players in the NBA. Of those 24 players, 22 of them are from his tenure at UK, while Derrick Rose (New York Knicks) and Tyreke Evans (New Orleans Pelicans) are from his days at Memphis.

The only two non-Calipari Wildcats that are listed on an NBA roster are Jodie Meeks (Orlando Magic) and Rajon Rondo (Chicago Bulls).

The Phoenix Suns have the most former UK players on its roster, totaling out at four. Archie Goodwin, who played a supporting role most of last year for the Suns, was waived by the organization on Monday after reportedly failing to fulfill a trade request form the 6-foot-5 guard.

UK has 21 players taken in the first round during Calipari’s seven-year run with the program, with three of them being No. 1 overall selections (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall).

A recent survey released by revealed that Towns received the most votes of NBA general managers when asked who they would start a franchise with. Davis received the most votes last year when general managers were asked asked the same question, and still received some votes this year.

With the roster number of UK players in the league seemingly increasing every year, it would appear Calipari’s wish of every NBA team having at least one Wildcat on its roster is not too far fetched.

As for Calipari’s hope of having half the NBA All-Star roster be his former players: he may have to wait a while on that.

The NBA season officially begins Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. with the Knicks taking on the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.