With the NBA Draft pushed back this year, among all the other changes, it gave me time to go back and get data on every player selected from a current SEC school. The first draft under the NBA was back in 1950, and that’s where this series starts. I am going to go over each of the decades leading up to today as well as a final article summarizing the draft history of all fourteen SEC basketball programs.
Make sure to check out other posts in this series:
This series is mostly to publish all of the data that I have gathered so far, but I plan to add to it and add other interesting posts on specific aspects in the future.
The early NBA Drafts had some odd formats and the rounds were either dependent on the few teams in the league at the time or arbitrary with some rounds consisting of just one or two picks. Because of that, for each of these drafts, I’m only indicating which pick each player was selected because I believe that is something that can consistently be compared for future drafts.
The total number of selections in each draft also differs, so I will indicate how many are in each year below or any other oddities that I noticed with the draft overall.
1980 NBA Draft
The 1980 NBA Draft had 214 total selections with the first six rounds expanding to 23 picks per round.
There were 18 players from current SEC schools taken in the 1980 NBA Draft with every school being represented except for Florida.
The San Antonio Spurs got a handful of SEC players in 1980 with four different picks from Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas ranging from the 15th pick down to the 209th pick.
1981 NBA Draft
The 1981 NBA Draft had 223 total selections with an almost identical format to the year before.
There were 16 different players taken from current SEC schools in the 1981 NBA Draft but none were selected in the top-25.
LSU led the way with four different players being drafted ranging from the 40th pick to the 101st pick.
1982 NBA Draft
The 1982 NBA Draft had 225 total selections.
From the current SEC schools, 16 players were drafted ranging from the 3rd overall pick down to the 218th pick.
Georgia legend and eventual NBA great Dominique Wilkins was taken 3rd overall by the Utah Jazz.
1983 NBA Draft
The 1983 NBA Draft had 226 total selections.
The current SEC schools had 21 total players drafted led by Steve Stipanovich from Missouri going second overall to the Indiana Pacers.
Dale Ellis from Tennessee and Jeff Malone from Mississippi State also got drafted in the top-10 at ninth and tenth respectively.
There were seven different players taken in the top-20 with ten going in the top-60.
1984 NBA Draft
The 1984 NBA Draft had 228 selections including Hakeem Olajuwon at first overall, Michael Jordan at third overall, Charles Barkley at fifth overall, and John Stockton going 16th overall.
The current SEC schools set a new record for most players selected in a single draft with 22 players picked in the 1984 NBA Draft.
While Sam Bowie is most known for being selected ahead of Michael Jordan, he was also one of two Kentucky players to go in the top-10 of the draft when Melvin Turpin was also drafted sixth overall by the Washington Bullets (now Washington Wizards).
There were four players taken in the top-10 picks including Charles Barkley from Auburn and Alvin Robertson from Arkansas in addition to the two Kentucky players just mentioned.
1985 NBA Draft
The 1985 NBA Draft had 162 total selections and Patrick Ewing out of Georgetown went first overall to the New York Knicks.
Half the amount of the previous year, only 11 players were selected from current SEC schools in this draft.
Arkansas made it two consecutive years with a player taken in the top-10 when Joe Kleine was drafted seventh overall by the Sacramento Kings.
1986 NBA Draft
The 1986 NBA Draft again had 162 total selections.
There were 15 players drafted from current SEC schools including at least two players from Kentucky, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri.
Two years after Charles Barkley went fifth overall, Auburn set another record for highest draft pick when Chuck Person was drafted fourth overall by the Indiana Pacers.
Kentucky had another top-5 pick of their own when Kenny Walker was selected fifth by the New York Knicks.
1987 NBA Draft
The 1987 NBA Draft had 161 total selections and was the last draft before the league started to shift to the modern draft format and make the total number of picks more concise.
The current SEC schools had 17 different players selected in the 1987 NBA Draft.
Alabama got the SEC off to quick start with the two picks inside the top-20 when Derrick McKey was drafted ninth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder) and Jim Farmer was taken 20th overall by the Dallas Mavericks.
1988 NBA Draft
The 1988 NBA Draft had 75 total selections after the NBA shifted the draft format to just be three rounds.
With the new, shortened draft, the current SEC schools only had 14 players selected.
Auburn had yet another top-5 pick in the 1980s when Chris Morris was selected fourth overall by the New Jersey Nets.
Rex Chapman out of Kentucky and Willie Anderson from Georgia were also selected in the top-10 at eighth and tenth respectively.
1989 NBA Draft
The 1989 NBA Draft had just 54 selections and marks the beginning of the modern NBA draft format with just two rounds after the league expanded to 27 teams.
The SEC didn’t have quite the success as the previous year with just eight players getting drafted in the new concise draft format.
Only one player, Byron Irvin from Missouri, was drafted in the first round when he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Missouri and Tennessee each had two players selected in the 1989 NBA Draft and made up half of the SEC selections by themselves.
Throughout the 1980s, there were 158 players drafted from current SEC schools out of 1,730 total selections (9.133%).
Kentucky once again had the most players selected in this decade, but many of the other current SEC programs were right there with them were Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, and Tennessee all had 12 or more picks in the 1980s.
Auburn led the way with three top-5 picks throughout the decade and Kentucky also had two in the same range.
Overall, there were 15 players from current SEC schools taken in the top-10 through the 1980s NBA Drafts.