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Is PA Becoming the Next NBA Star Factory?

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(December 4, 2020)--Every year, some NBA contenders cannot wait to hear their names being called out on draft night as this enables them to start their professional basketball careers. With the level of preparation required to transit to a pro in the NBA, the fate of becoming a basketball legend has been tied closely to colleges (and many powerhouse programs) that have a proven record and long history of producing NBA stars. 

Such colleges serve as a point of attraction to individuals with the dream of pursuing a professional basketball career. The success colleges in Pennsylvania recorded in helping young players achieve their dream of becoming professional NBA players result from the funding they receive and the heavy presence of the best facilities. This makes the skill level of any NBA star a reflection of opportunity, coaching, and other factors that enhance skill development. All of these do not include physical qualities.

The history of college basketball is deeply rooted in talent and tradition, and colleges in Pennsylvania have been very successful in producing standouts. Apart from being home to Philadelphia 76ers – an American professional basketball team with a prominent history of producing many Hall of Fame players – and a host of others, Pennsylvania colleges, such as La Salle, Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova, have been sending great players to HBCUs and NCAA tournaments over the years and has produced NBA players, including Wilt ChamberlainKobe Bryant, and Paul Arizin.

Resources provided by sports betting community, revealed Pennsylvania has produced 120 professional sports stars, 17 for NBA. In this study, they cover which university produced the most professional NBA stars and more.


Plenty of “Penns” in the NBA

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Penn has a long history of college basketball stars that made the NBA. It was the first to introduce “biddy” basketball in 1950. The court and equipment were adjusted for young players of 12 years. The state has produced a number of professional NBA players including Davies Bob, a seven-time star featuring on the All-Star team; "Jumping Joe" Fulks, who led the Philadelphia Warriors to the 1947 NBA championship; Tola Gola, whose name got enshrined, as a player, in the 1976 National Basketball Hall of Fame; Essie Hollis, who got drafted into the NBA in 1977; and Paul Arizin, who was chosen as one of the 50 greatest NBA players after leading the Philadelphia Warriors to the NBA championship in 1956.

Others include Ernie Beck, a member of the Warriors' 1956 NBA championship team who also contributed significantly to the featuring of Pennsylvania on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of the college; Sam Bowie; Chamberlain Wilt; and Joe "Bells" Colone. All these players dominated the early 90s era.

Coming down to the late 90s, a couple of Ivy League players also made it to the NBA. Talk of University of Pennsylvania's Jerome Allen and Matt Maloney; they are perhaps the greatest backcourt in the Ivy League history. Fans couldn’t have easily forgotten the outstanding performance of Maloney with the Houston Rockets in the late-1990s. In 1995, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Allen, who would later play for the Pacers and Nuggets, with the 49th overall pick.  

With Allen, in 1992, Penn hit a 51-5 record in Ivy League play, an outstanding performance that saw the state’s return to the national poll after a decade of oblivion. In 1994, Allen and the Quakers defeated sixth-seeded Nebraska 90-80 to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Though Penn lost the second round, it broke the 14-year jinx of being unable to advance past the first round.

According to a Deadspin report, Philadelphia produces more NBA talent per capita than any big city in the United States. Of the over 200 NBA stars who attended colleges in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia accounts for a whopping 121 of them. This represents about 49% of the total stars. The list includes “Jumping Joe” Fulks, Tola Gola, among a host of others. Current players from the area include Dion Waiters, Cam Reddish (2019), De'Andre Hunter, Markieff and Marcus Morris, Kyle Lowry, Wayne Ellington, Maalik Wayns, Lavoy Allen, and Gerald Henderson.

What later changed?

What makes great talents, especially in the basketball sport, is a combination of several factors, including individual accolades, outstanding performance, and team success. With Wilt Chamberlain, Allen Iverson, and a host of others put on dazzling performances for the Philadelphia 76ers, it also witnessed a downward spiral. The exit of the 76ers’ coach, Alex Hannum, in 1968 contributed to the failure of the team in advancing past the first round of the postseason for the next three seasons.

A new season was witnessed though after it acquired Julius (“Dr. J”) Erving prior to the 1976–77 season. Between Erving’s first year up to his 11 years, the 76ers either made it to the NBA finals or qualified for the play-offs. Again, the exit of Erving and Malone from Philadelphia led the team back to rebuilding mode.

The team continued to experience mixed moments of drought and restoration. Even after defeating the Chicago Bulls in six games in the 2011-2012 season, it failed to capitalize on its play-off force during the following season. It also recorded huge consecutive losses during the 2013–14 season. Philadelphia continued to struggle as a team as its players continue to flourish on the NBA rosters.

While the team’s initial period of the NBA season was uninspiring, as the season crept forward, the players became healthier and performed at their optimum.


The NBA, as a global game has the kids and youths as significant participants. It is the United States’ second most popular sport, especially in colleges. Though numerous colleges play the sport, only a few of them have a history of players who made it to the NBA. In the history of producing NBA stars, colleges in Pennsylvania are taking a major lead.

With the talents produced from Penn, the city may not stop producing talents any time soon. This is even amidst the inability of the city to produce star power at the top. The truth is that the city boasts of quality rotation players. Isn’t this enough reason to conclude that PA is the next NBA star factory? Of course, it is!