Top Schools by Win Shares: A Closer Look at #6-10

On Wednesday, we developed a Win Shares-based system for ranking the top NCAA programs at developing NBA talent since 1974, and I gave a very broad overview of the top 10 teams. Over the next few posts, we’re going to go more in-depth on those colleges, taking a look at the career NBA performance of their 12-man “rosters”, as well as looking at the stats those players put up when they were still collegians.

First, we’ll examine schools #6-10:

    | college_name                             | overall |
    | 6. University of Notre Dame              |    45.3 |
    | 7. University of Michigan                |    43.6 |
    | 8. University of Arizona                 |    42.2 |
    | 9. University of Houston                 |    42.0 |
    |10. Georgia Institute of Technology       |    41.1 |

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Notable coaches: John “Whack” Hyder, Bobby Cremins, Paul Hewitt
NBA Players since 1973-74: 29

12 best players by Win Shares:

Player           WS
Stephon Marbury 78.2
Mark Price      69.1
Kenny Anderson  62.7
Chris Bosh      42.3
John Salley     40.3
Matt Harpring   40.0
Jon Barry       37.4
Dennis Scott    33.5
Travis Best     30.5
Matt Geiger     28.2
Duane Ferrell   15.6
Tom Hammonds    14.8


  • Tech has a history of producing quality point guards at the NBA level. Marbury, Price, Anderson, and Best are all Cremins-era PGs, while current NBAers Jarrett Jack and Javaris Crittenton entered the league after being coached by Hewitt.
  • The Jackets’ best players frequently leave school early. Only 4 of these 12 played through their senior year, with Bosh and Marbury leaving after 1 year, and Anderson after just 2 years.
  • Georgia Tech cracks the Top 10 on depth, not front-line talent. Of the Top 10, only Arizona’s Jason Terry leads his school with fewer career WS than Marbury does Tech.
  • Dennis Scott’s junior year is probably the best offensive season of this group; he scored 25.5 P/36 with a 59.3 TS% and a paltry 9.9 turnover rate.
  • Anderson and Scott represented the famed “Lethal Weapon 3” trio well, with both making the Top 12. Brian Oliver, on the other hand, finished with -0.5 career WS in 4 seasons.

9. Houston Cougars
Notable coaches: Guy Lewis, Pat Foster
NBA Players since 1973-74: 17

12 best players by Win Shares:

Player            WS
Hakeem Olajuwon 163.4
Clyde Drexler   139.1
Bo Outlaw        51.4
Otis Birdsong    48.5
Damon Jones      28.0
Dwight Jones     27.2
Greg Anderson    18.8
Carl Herrera      8.9
Sam Mack          7.4
Anthony Goldwire  6.4
Larry Micheaux    2.5
Rob Williams      2.3


  • Unlike Georgia Tech, Houston is here almost entirely on the basis of their front-line talent. The only 1-2 combo more potent than Olajuwon-Drexler is UNC’s Michael JordanSam Perkins pairing. Likewise, Mack, Goldwire, Micheaux, and Williams have the 4 lowest career WS totals of any players on a Top 10 school’s 12-man roster.
  • Olajuwon’s sophomore and junior seasons were simply monstrous; they rank 7th and 2nd, respectively, among Top 10 roster members in Game Score/36 minutes. As a junior, “The Dream” scored 17.7 P/36 on a 64.7 TS%, grabbed 14.7 R/36, and put up 7.7 steals + blocks per 36 minutes. Looking at his college numbers, there was no way that this guy wasn’t going to be a dominant pro.
  • Though he was drafted by the Miami Heat, Carl Herrera played the first 4 years of his pro career with the Houston Rockets and was an important role player on their 1994 NBA Championship team.
  • Houston’s 12-man roster includes 5 players from the legendary “Phi Slamma Jamma” teams of the early-to-mid 1980s (Drexler, Olajuwon, Micheaux, Williams, and Anderson).

8. Arizona Wildcats
Notable coaches: Fred Snowden, Lute Olsen
NBA Players since 1973-74: 35

12 best players by Win Shares:

Player             WS
Jason Terry       66.5
Mike Bibby        58.1
Sean Elliott      55.8
Damon Stoudamire  54.8
Richard Jefferson 50.4
Gilbert Arenas    49.7
Steve Kerr        46.5
Chris Mills       35.6
Andre Iguodala    31.5
Bison Dele        22.6
Jud Buechler      16.5
Sean Rooks        16.3


  • Arizona ranked first in our “depth %” metric, with a full 39.9% of their overall score coming from the strength of their non-frontline talent. They haven’t developed a real superstar per se (Gilbert Arenas is probably the closest they have), but they have done a great job of filling NBA rosters with solid pros throughout the Olsen era.
  • Mike Bibby and Miles Simon will always be inextricably linked by the Wildcats’ 1997 championship run — in fact, Simon was more of a go-to guy for ‘Zona than Bibby was during their NCAA careers. Fast forward 11 years: Bibby has 63.0 combined regular-season and playoff WS (and counting), while Simon retired with -0.1 in one season.
  • How deep is Arizona? Current players Luke Walton and Channing Frye could very well make a run at Rooks and Buechler for the final spots on this 12-man roster.
  • In 1988, his senior year, Steve Kerr posted an amazing 78.1 TS%. Of course, this was just a taste of things to come — Kerr had 2 of the best TS% seasons ever with the Bulls in 1996 and 1997.
  • Chris Mills was really good as a junior in 1993, scoring 23.6 P/36 on a 62.2 TS%. The undersized forward ended up being taken with the 22nd pick in the ’93 draft, and forged a solid 10-year NBA career.
  • You can only ask “what might have been?” when it comes to the case of Michael Dickerson. Dickerson posted 9.5 WS through his first 3 seasons and was a virtual lock to make this roster, until a series of unfortunate injuries ruined his career and forced him into early retirement.

7. Michigan Wolverines
Notable coaches: Johnny Orr, Bill Frieder, Steve Fisher, Tommy Amaker
NBA Players since 1973-74: 28

12 best players by Win Shares:

Player          WS
Glen Rice      88.0
Chris Webber   87.7
Juwan Howard   55.8
Rickey Green   48.2
Jalen Rose     47.1
Loy Vaught     36.4
Campy Russell  34.7
Terry Mills    32.8
Phil Hubbard   28.6
Jamal Crawford 23.4
Tim McCormick  20.9
Roy Tarpley    19.4


  • Members of the “Fab Five” make up 36.4% of the total WS for Michigan’s 12-man roster. Jimmy King finished with 0.0 career WS and Ray Jackson never made the league, but C-Webb would likely have passed Rice as Michigan’s all-time WS leader had his knee not betrayed him last season with Golden State.
  • Glen Rice was flat-out awesome on offense during his senior year in 1989. In addition to setting the NCAA tournament record with 184 points scored, Rice poured in 27.2 P/36 with a 67.8 TS% and a 10.4 turnover %; the 20.9 GmSc/36 he recorded was the 3rd-best mark among Top 10 roster members.
  • Michigan ranked 5th among all teams in our “depth” metric and 10th in front-line talent, making them one of only 6 teams to finish in the Top 10 in both categories.
  • Out of all of the players their 12-man roster, only one (Jamal Crawford) was produced after the “Fab Five” era ended.
  • Speaking of “what might have been?” — Roy Tarpley put up 19.1 P/36 and 10.5 R/40 with a 57.8 TS% in his final two years at Michigan, and was averaging 8.1 WS/3000 min in the NBA until drug abuse permanently derailed his career in 1991.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notable coaches: Digger Phelps, John MacLeod, Mike Brey
NBA Players since 1973-74: 27

12 best players by Win Shares:

Players             WS
Adrian Dantley    134.0
Bill Laimbeer     104.6
Orlando Woolridge  52.9
Kelly Tripucka     45.3
John Paxson        35.3
LaPhonso Ellis     33.1
Troy Murphy        32.8
Bill Hanzlik       25.7
John Shumate       24.9
Pat Garrity        19.1
Donald Royal       19.0
Toby Knight        16.0


  • You don’t typically think of Notre Dame as being an elite program (they’ve missed the NCAA Tournament 16 times in the past 27 years, and they’ve made it to the second week just twice), but they’ve produced some pretty decent NBA players in the Win Shares era. Unfortunately, the last member of their “front-line talent” (top 5 players) left South Bend 25 years ago, when John Paxson donned the cap and gown in 1983.
  • Notre Dame seems to produce lots of jump-shooting big men — Laimbeer, Garrity, Murphy, etc. On a related note, long-range specialist Garrity actually shot better from the longer NBA arc (.398 career 3P%) than the NCAA distance (.358).
  • Adrian Dantley was as an amazing a collegian as he was in the pros. He started as a freshman in 1973-74 and played a role when ND ended UCLA’s 88-game winning streak. In his sophomore year, he averaged 29.1 P/36 on a 60.8 TS% with 9.8 R/36, and posted 28.3/63.8/10.0 in his 3rd and final NCAA season. Taken with the 6th overall pick in the draft, AD went on to win the Rookie of the Year for the Buffalo Braves the following season.
  • The Irish’s top 4 players (Dantley, Laimbeer, Woolridge, Tripucka) stack up pretty well against those of their fellow Top 10 schools — their WS total actually crushes Duke’s top 4 — but the rest of their 12-man roster is pretty ordinary. Only 32.7% of their overall score comes from their depth; while we’re not talking a Houston-esque imbalance between front-line talent and depth, ND’s front-liners are clearly carrying the load here.

That’s the bottom half of the Top 10; stay tuned for programs #1-5 on Monday.

About Neil Paine

I work for I've been a freelance writer for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and Basketball Prospectus.

Posted on November 15, 2008, in NCAA, Win Shares. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Like Notre Dame as you note, Houston would drop out of top 10 of last 10 years.

  2. Fascinating work–especially to note how often a program’s elite players were teammates of one another.

    One note on ND–did you overlook Austin Carr, or did his WS total really suffer that much from excluding his pre-74 seasons that he ranked behind Toby Hall? If so, that’s too bad–he was a monstrous collegian who turned in a few strong seasons early in his career before injuries prematurely ended his career.

    Either way, great stuff.

  3. Scratch that comment. I now see that you excluded a player’s entire career if it began before 74, not just the seasons before then.

    Ah ha.

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