Arizona among most successful with NBA

There aren't many schools that are better at sending players to the next level than Arizona. What may surprise you, however, is exactly where Arizona stands.

The University of Arizona is a household name in the basketball community, thanks in large part to the hard work of legendary coach, Lute Olson. While in Tucson, Olson was able to win many games, garner the support of his community, and bring a National Championship trophy to the halls of McKale Center.

However, what he also did was help his student-athletes continue their playing careers in the greatest basketball league in the world: the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Since 1988, Arizona has produced 34 NBA Draft picks, with a total of 63 players going on to play professionally since the basketball program began in Tucson. These players have combined for $773,763,823 in NBA salary earnings.

While that number is impressive, when looking at the names of other schools that join Arizona on the list, this accomplishment is even more astounding.

Arizona's 34 picks rank first among current programs, with Duke holding second-place with 32 picks during that span. The three other programs that make-up the top-5 include: UCLA (30), Kansas (29), and North Carolina (26).

In other words, Arizona stands atop the true ‘Blue Bloods' of college basketball.

Derrick Williams is the latest tally Arizona added to its column with his 2nd-overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, sending him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After winning the Pac-10 Player of the Year and having breakout performances in the NCAA Tournament, it was clear that Williams would be a high priority for NBA organizations.

As good of a player as Williams is, he likely wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for Arizona head coach, Sean Miller.

With the selection of Williams 2nd-overall, it has brought much positive publicity to the Arizona program and coaching staff. Recruits who at one point may not have given the Wildcats a legitimate chance, are now perking their ears when the name ‘Arizona' is brought up.

This could not have come at a better time for Miller and company, as they are coming off a Pac-10 Championship and Elite-8 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. There is now a feeling growing in the western region that Arizona is moving back toward its previous days of dominance and national recognition.

When asked about Arizona and why they are interested in the program, many high level prospects acknowledge watching the Wildcats play in both the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournaments.

With Arizona already securing a top 2011 recruiting class, it will be interesting to see how Arizona's recent and past success affects the classes of 2012 and beyond. If having a top draft pick like Williams is any indication of a team's success, Arizona's 35th tally will arrive to Tucson in the very near future.

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