In the latest DraftExpress 2017 NBA mock draft, nine ACC players are projected to go in the first round. If that does in fact come to fruition, it would be the highest number of ACC players ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. It would also be a single-season record for first-round draft picks from a basketball conference.
The ACC, which was founded in 1953, has produced at least one draft pick in every season of its existence. In total, the No. 1 overall pick has come from the ACC on 10 different occasions. The most recent example of this was Duke’s Kyrie Irving back in 2011.
Eight is great
The previous record for most ACC players taken in the first round stands at eight; back in 1995, eight of the first 29 picks all came from the ACC.
- Joe Smith, Maryland
- Jerry Stackhouse, North Carolina
- Rasheed Wallace, North Carolina
- Cherokee Parks, Duke
- Bob Sura, Florida State
- Randolph Childress, Wake Forest
- Travis Best, Georgia Tech
- Cory Alexander, Virginia
These eight players came from seven different schools, which is amazing. Think about this: At the time, the ACC housed just nine teams. The only two ACC basketball programs to not produce a first-round pick in 1995 were NC State and Clemson. This set a record for the most first-round picks to come from a single conference.
In 2012, led by Anthony Davis and the Kentucky Wildcats, the SEC produced eight first-round selections, too.
However, on two other occasions, the ACC has produced seven first-round picks in the same draft: 2015 and 2005. That 2005 draft is notable because that was the final draft before the NBA instituted its one-and-done rule.
Another noteworthy draft for the ACC came way back in 1977. That year, there were only 22 first-round picks. The then seven-team ACC produced six first-round selections that season, though. Three of the top 10 picks hailed from the ACC, including two Tar Heels: Walter Davis (No. 5) and Tom LaGarde (No. 9).
In the last 40 years, there is just one draft in which the ACC produced zero first-round picks. That was the 1988 draft, when current Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning was selected No. 1 overall. Manning was only months removed from leading Kansas to the 1988 NCAA Championship. (Now, nearly 30 years later, Manning’s star pupil, John Collins, is a lock for the first round.)
The highest drafted ACC alum that year was Vinny Del Negro of NC State, who was selected 29th by the Sacramento Kings. There were only 25 teams in the NBA in the 1988-89 season; that was the inaugural season for both the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.
A dime a dozen…well, not really
There is a chance that more than nine players could be selected in the first round. North Carolina’s Tony Bradley — if he chooses to stay in the draft — could easily slide inside the top 30 picks. Bradley is currently slotted as a fringe first-round selection. That means there is the very real possibility that one-third of the first-round picks in this year’s draft come from the ACC, which would be a tremendous encore for a league that is mid-victory-lap following UNC’s national championship.