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Men's Basketball

When we survey NCAA student-athletes about their expectations of moving on to professional athletics careers, the results indicate surprising confidence in that possibility. The reality is that very few go pro.

Estimated probability of competing in men's college basketball

High School Participants NCAA Participants Overall % HS to NCAA % HS to NCAA Division I % HS to NCAA Division II % HS to NCAA Division III
550,305 18,712 3.4% 1.0% 1.0% 1.4%

Sources: High school figures from the 2016-17 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations; data from club teams not included.  College numbers from the NCAA 2016-17 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.

Estimated probability of competing in men's professional basketball

NCAA Participants Approximate # Draft Eligible # Draft Picks # NCAA Drafted % NCAA to Major Pro % NCAA to Total Pro
18,712 4,158 60 50 1.2% 19.3%
  • NBA draft data from 2017.  There were 60 draft slots in that year and 50 went to NCAA players (others chosen were international players not attending U.S. colleges).  Percentage NCAA to Major Pro calculated using the 50 NCAA selections. Since 2006, 12 international players have been drafted on average each year.
  • On 2017-18 opening day NBA rosters, former NCAA players filled 83% of roster spots (all from Division I schools).  (Source: Jim Sukup, College Basketball News).
  • Data on other professional opportunities in men’s basketball were collected by NCAA staff with the assistance of Marek Wojtera from eurobasket.com.  Tracking 2016-17 international opportunities for the 2016 draft cohort, it was determined that an additional 751 former NCAA student-athletes played internationally, in the NBA D-League, or in the NBA as undrafted players (535 from Division I, 181 from Division II and 35 from Division III) after leaving college; this includes international players who attended NCAA institutions.  These numbers were combined with the NBA draftees to calculate an approximate NCAA to Total Professional opportunities figure (calculated as [50 + 751] / 4,158 = 19%).
  • We estimate that 4.1% of draft-eligible Division I players were chosen in the 2017 NBA draft (50 / 1,219).  However, in total, 48% of draft-eligible Division I players competed professionally (NBA, D-League, or internationally) in their first year after leaving college (calculated as [50 + 535] / 1,219). Approximately 18% of draft-eligible players from the five Division I conferences with autonomous governance (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) were drafted by the NBA in 2017 (40 / 225), while 77% played professionally somewhere in their first year post-college (calculated as [40 + 134] / 225).

Last Updated: April 20, 2018