Ranking College Conference Starting 5 of NBA Players

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were roommates at UCLA. (Getty Images)

What if put together a starting five of the best NBA players, based on their colleges and formed teams by college. We previously shared our individual college alumni rankings. Now, we present to you overall conference rankings.

1. PAC-12

Russell Westbrook (UCLA), James Harden (Arizona State), Klay Thompson (Washington State), Demar Derozan (USC), Kevin Love (UCLA)
While the alumni rankings had an SEC team (Kentucky) and Big 12 teams (Texas) ranked 1-2, the PAC-12 takes the top spot due to their incredible depth at every position. The backcourt consists of the 2016 and 2017 league MVP respectively, Klay Thompson is a 3-time NBA champion and 4-time all star, Kevin Love has an NBA title and is a 5-time all star, and lastly, Demar Derozan, the newest San Antonio Spur, has played in four all star games.

2. SEC

John Wall (Kentucky), Bradley Beal (Florida), Ben Simmons (LSU), Anthony Davis (Kentucky), Karl Anthony-Towns (Kentucky)
As evidenced by our alumni rankings, the SEC is loaded thanks to Kentucky. But believe it or not, the SEC has produced stars beyond Kentucky, guys like Bradley Beal, who made his first all star game in 2018 and Ben Simmons, who won rookie of the year in 2018 (and is the favorite to win the award again in 2019). One unique tidbit about this team is that 4 of the 5 players went first overall (Beal went #3). Anthony Davis is one of the 5 best players in the NBA. Three point shooting would be this team’s only weakness.

3. Big 12

Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Kevin Durant (Texas), Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas), Joel Embiid (Kansas)
Whoa this team is huge. Marcus Smart, whose a big dude for a guard, would look ridiculous next to this foursome. Big 12 is third on this list because all of their best players are big and Marcus Smart is not an elite point guard.

4. ACC

Kyrie Irving (Duke), Chris Paul (Wake Forest), JJ Reddick (Duke), Jayson Tatum (Duke), Donovan Mitchell (Louisville)
A few immediate observations – maybe the ACC can borrow a big man or two from the Big 12, where are all the UNC Tar Heels? and they are young and athletic. This all-ACC team is loaded with wings and incorporates a two PG backcourt. Come to think of it, give the Big 12 a PG and a wing for a big and both of these teams are really fun to watch. The inclusion of Tatum and Mitchell, two rookies from the 2017 draft class, shows how impressive those two players are, but also shows a lack of depth around the NBA from the ACC. JJ Reddick was a last minute inclusion over a long list of guys that included Harrison Barnes (there’s young Tar Heel), Brandon Ingram, Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker, and others.

5. Big Ten

Mike Conley (Ohio State), Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Tim Hardaway Jr (Michigan), Eric Gordon (Indiana), Draymond Green (Michigan State)
The Big Ten is the first team on this list that doesn’t include only lottery picks – Tim Hardaway Jr was drafted 24th overall and Draymond Green was a second round pick. Another guard heavy team that would rely heavily on perimeter shooting. Even with Draymond, defense would definitely be an issue for the Big Ten team.

6. Big East

Kyle Lowry (Villanova), Kemba Walker (UConn), Jimmy Butler (Marquette), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse*), Andre Drummond (UConn)
Even though Syracuse is now in the ACC, at the time Carmelo Anthony was there, the school was one of the flagship Big East schools back in 2003, when ‘Melo led the Orange to a championship. Melo’s inclusion also means Otto Porter (Georgetown) gets bumped from the starting 5. This team is fun and certainly makes me miss the old Big East and how much fun the basketball conference was.

7. Mountain West

Tony Snell (New Mexico), Tyler Johnson (Fresno State), Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State), Paul George (Fresno State), Larry Nance (Wyoming)
Outside the big six conferences, the Mountain West is the only other one that has produced a legit starting five. What’s fascinating about this team is the inclusion of two top ten NBA players in Leonard and George. The rest of the team consists of solid NBA role players.

Which conference do you think would be the best? Which players did we leave off? Comment below!

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Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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