Nevada & BYU Best at Converting Talent into NBA Draft Picks: Ranking the Best of the Rest (Non-BCS)

In our current series on college basketball programs’ abilities to transform their available high school talent into NBA draft picks, we have decided to start with summary data for each school.  We plan on concluding the series with a statistical model that predicts the likelihood of a player being drafted based on the player’s recruiting ranking, the school’s investment in the program, the rankings of the player’s teammates and other factors.  We decided to start with the summary efficiency rankings simply because these rankings are more accessible to fans and tend to generate more conversation.

Our series continues with an examination of recruiting classes from 2002-2011 in the Non-BCS Conferences (The Best of the “Mid-Majors”).    The chart below lists our efficiency rankings (for more details on our methodology, please click here).  The University of Nevada Wolfpack were the leaders in converting talent into NBA draft picks.  The Wolfpack were followed closely by BYU.  It should be noted that there was a minimum threshold of recruiting talent over the ten year study that was needed to be considered for this analysis.

Nevada and BYU not only are on top of the “Best of the Non-BCS” ranking, but they are also the two best teams in the country overall based on this talent conversion metric. Also, although Colorado State and North Texas are at the bottom of this top 10, their conversion rates would put them near the top of any of the BCS conference rankings.  Finally, Gonzaga and Memphis are not on this list, despite producing 3 and 9 draft picks, respectively, during the period of this study.  This is due to when we control for the amount of talent that was recruited to these schools, their conversion rates are less than stellar.

In the period of the study, Nevada did not have any 5-Star recruits in its basketball program.   Nevada had 50% of its 4-Star recruits, 17% of its 3-Star recruits, 14% of its 2-Star recruits, and 6% of its non-rated recruits drafted into the NBA.  This is incredible given that the national overall average for getting drafted was 13% for 4-Star recruits, 3% for 3-Star recruits, 0.8% for 2-Star recruits, and 0.4% for non-rated recruits!

Similar to Nevada, BYU did very well in converting lower-ranked talent.  BYU had 14% of its 3-Star recruits drafted into the NBA.  Remarkably, BYU had 13% of its non-ranked players drafted; this is almost 33 times better than the overall national average!


2011-2013 NFL Draft Performance by the Non-BCS Conferences FBS: Nevada, Boise State, and Idaho Excel, Notre Dame Disappoints

We have spent the last few days examining the performance of BCS Conferences schools in the 2013 NFL Draft with respect to converting high school talent into NFL draft picks (SEC, Big 10, ACC, PAC 12, Big 12, & Big East).   In this study, we consider the talent conversion ability of Non-BCS Conferences schools over the last three NFL drafts.  We find that the University of Nevada did the best job of converting high school talent into draft picks.  It should be noted that Notre Dame finished near the bottom of the list of Non-BCS schools.  While the Fighting Irish produced only one more pick than Boise State and two more than Nevada, their recruiting classes were better by leaps and bounds.

The FCS schools are excluded from this study because there is very limited recruiting data available.  However, Appalachian State produced six draft picks in the 2011-2013 NFL drafts!  It is not surprising that Appalachian State is moving to the FBS.

(*ARP refers to the average recruiting points as given by for recruiting classes represented in the 2011-2013 NFL Drafts)









Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2013.