LEXINGTON, Ky. – At the dawn of a new NBA season, Kentucky men’s basketball’s ability to develop and prepare players for the next step continues to manifest itself as 27 former Wildcat student-athletes appear on NBA opening-day rosters.
The total of 27 players on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive players) that played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky is more than any other college program in the country. Duke, with 25, is the only other school with more than 20 players in the NBA. The list was compiled from the NBA’s official opening-day roster list.
Of the 17 NBA franchises featuring a Wildcat, eight have multiple Kentucky players. Detroit and Sacramento each have a trio of Wildcats on their roster while the Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Hornets and Trail Blazers each have two.
Wildcats in the NBA
Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat
Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Brandon Boston Jr. – Los Angeles Clippers
Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers
Hamidou Diallo – Detroit Pistons
De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Wenyen Gabriel – Los Angeles Lakers
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
Tyler Herro – Miami Heat
Isaiah Jackson – Indiana Pacers
Keldon Johnson – San Antonio Spurs
Kevin Knox II – Detroit Pistons
Trey Lyles – Sacramento Kings
Tyrese Maxey – Philadelphia 76ers
Malik Monk – Sacramento Kings
Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets
Nerlens Noel – Detroit Pistons
Immanuel Quickley – New York Knicks
Julius Randle – New York Knicks
Nick Richards – Charlotte Hornets
Olivier Sarr – Portland Trail Blazers
Shaedon Sharpe – Portland Trail Blazers
Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Jarred Vanderbilt – Utah Jazz
John Wall – Los Angeles Clippers
PJ Washington – Charlotte Hornets
Tyty Washington Jr. – Houston Rockets
In 13 seasons under head coach John Calipari, 45 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, including 34 first-round selections and three No. 1 overall picks (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall). He has a streak of 15 consecutive drafts with a first-round pick dating back to his time at Memphis. Calipari is one of only two coaches in the history of the sport to have four players drafted No. 1 overall (Derrick Rose – 2008, Wall – 2010, Davis – 2012, Towns – 2015).
In the 2021-22 season, Devin Booker (first-team) and Towns (third-team) garnered All-NBA laurels while Tyler Herro earned the Wildcats’ first NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. Booker and Towns each earned their third NBA All-Star selection.
Using figures compiled by basketball-reference.com and spotrac.com, Calipari-coached players have amassed more than $3.5 billion in career NBA contracts. In the 13 seasons Calipari has been the head coach at Kentucky, his players have totaled nearly $3 billion in NBA contracts. In the 2022-23 season alone, former UK players are slated to make nearly $330 million.