Caulton Tudor

1st team All-NBA an elusive goal for former Devils, Heels

Posted June 5, 2014

March 20 2011: Duke guard Kyrie Irving (1) at the free throw line during a game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Duke Blue Devils in the Third Round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC. Duke won 73-71.

It wasn’t much of a surprise Wednesday when monolithic college programs Duke and North Carolina failed to place a former player on the 2013-14 NBA all-star teams.

That’s become the norm.

Of the 15 top vote-getters cited by the NBA all-star selection panel members, Wake Forest placed guard Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers) on the 1st team and Davidson product Stephen Curry (Golden State) was named to the 2nd team.

The top Duke alum was guard Kyrie Irving of Cleveland, who finished 28th in the voting. Former UNC guard Ty Lawson of Denver came in 35th. And you have to keep in mind that Irving played only 11 games at Duke.

It’s the latest reminder that although the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are among the best college programs in history and have been prolific recruiting magnets for decades, neither has turned out NBA superstars at an especially high rate.

In fact, the only Duke player ever to be picked 1st team NBA was Grant Hill of Detroit in 1997.

The last Carolina product on first team was Michael Jordan of Chicago in 1998.

Jordan was a 10-time 1st team pick and arguably the best professional player ever. But other than Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia) and Robert McAdoo (Buffalo Braves/LA Clippers), the only other ex-Carolina 1st teamer was Bones McKinney (Washington Capitols) in 1947.

Cunningham was a 3-time 1st-team pick in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. McAdoo, a Greensboro native, played one season for the Tar Heels before going pro. He’d previously played two seasons at Vincennes Junior College in Indiana.

McKinney, a Durham native, played college ball at both Carolina and N.C. State.

The Wolfpack’s only other NBA 1st team pick was David Thompson (Denver), still generally rated the best college player in ACC history.

No fool-proof predictor

One thing the annual all-NBA team selections proves beyond doubt is that the ever-popular high school recruit ratings are no guarantee of future pro fame and riches.

LeBron James (Miami) was a clear pick as the country’s best high school player in 2002-03, made the straight move to the pros when it was legal and obviously has become the most dominant pro of his era.

Paul was a prep all-American at West Forsyth High and fellow 1st team pick Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) and picked Texas over dozens of other offers, but neither was projected as a surefire pro NBA superstar.

Durant wasn’t even deemed to be a lock to start as a college freshman until he grew from 6-feet-3 to 6-8 as a high school senior.

The other two 1st team selections were Houston’s James Harden (Arizona State) and Chicago’s Joakim Noah (Florida).

As a freshman with the Gators in 2004-05, Noah averaged only 10 minutes playing time and rarely was on the court in crunch time.

Rivals had Hardin ranked as the No. 11 prospect in 2007 - behind J.J. Hickson, who picked State, turned pro after one season and has played this season with the Nuggets, his fifth NBA stop.

In 2009, Rivals had B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) rated No. 1. He also went pro after one season in school and has averaged 7.4 points over six pro seasons with four pro teams, most recently the Clippers.

Here are the top all-NBA vote-getters and their colleges:

1st TEAM
Kevin Durant (Thunder) Texas
LeBron James (Heat) None
Joakim Noah (Bulls) Florida
James Harden (Rockets) Arizona State
Chris Paul (Clippers) Wake Forest

2nd TEAM
Blake Griffin (Clippers) Oklahoma
Kevin Love (Timberwolves) UCLA
Dwight Howard (Rockets) None
Stephen Curry (Warriors) Davidson
Tony Parker (Spurs) None

3rd TEAM
Paul George (Pacers) Fresno State
LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers) Texas
Al Jefferson (Hornets) None
Goran Dragic (Suns) None
Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) Weber State

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) Syracuse
John Wall (Wizards) Kentucky
Tim Duncan (Spurs) Wake Forest
DeMar Robinson (Raptors) Southern Cal
Anthony Davis (Pelicans) Kentucky


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  • 903isacqward Jun 6, 2014

    Seriously? You really believe that guys like Parker, Rivers, Irving don't aspire to be top players? That is silly.

    I can think of lots of reasons why UNC and Duke are not represented, but I seriously doubt it is because the players don't aspire to be top 5 type players.

  • 903 Born 2 B Hated, Dying 2 B Lo Jun 5, 2014

    Not speaking for unc, but duke isn't a place where you'd go if you aspire to be a top 5 player. Coach k has loaded teams meaning you will get more touches on the ball/shots if you to elsewhere. And coach k also makes you play d and set screens....two things you never see the stars doing in the nba.

  • canz Jun 5, 2014

    All-NBA 1st team is elusive for every school on earth. There are only 5 spots. That being said, who on earth cares about All-NBA. Dull

  • HGA_Matt Jun 5, 2014

    I agree that this article proves Caulton Tudor knows very little about the NBA.

    First, the All-Star Team and the All-NBA team are very, very different things. Vince Carter probably still makes All-Star teams. Everybody makes the All-Star team.

    All-NBA is an exclusive award. Only 5 people make the first team. And it should be of little surprise that there aren't many schools represented, because typically the same players are the best each year. So Lebron, Durant, Paul and usually Howard are going to occupy 4 spots.

    Carolina and Duke probably have a player on over half the teams in the NBA between the 2 of them, and in a league with only 360 players, that's nothing to sneeze at.

  • TTCP Jun 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    No....the article is about 1st team All-NBA players. Not successful ones.

  • Adam Oakley Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The premise of the article is stupid, period. He makes it sound as if Duke and UNC players don't succeed in the NBA which is far from true. At least, acknowledge the very large number of players from the two schools who are having very successful NBA careers. This article makes it sound as if Wake Forest is better at producing pros than either Duke or UNC which is an absolute joke. It just happens that the only 2 Wake players in the NBA just happen to be all-stars while Duke and UNC consistently produce guys who have successful NBA careers.

  • Ken D. Jun 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Which part of your comments has anything to do with the premise of the article? I can't believe they let people like you comment.

    This was an interesting article. I was mildly surprised to see that fewer than half the players on the three teams came out of what are generally considered the "power conferences", called that because they supposedly have a near monopoly on the top high school talent.

  • Adam Oakley Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    As usual, what a stupid article by Tudor. There are currently more Duke players in the NBA than from any other school. UNC also has plenty of players in the NBA. Both schools have guys who are having great careers, regardless of if they were voted to some all-NBA team or not. I can't believe Caulton Tudor gets paid to write.

  • j9us Jun 5, 2014

    Someone get paid to write this stuff?

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