The 2 schools with most No. 1 overall picks in NBA Draft history

Kyrie Irving, Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
Kyrie Irving, Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports) /
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NBA Draft
Paolo Banchero, Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke Blue Devils, five No. 1 overall picks

Unsurprisingly, the Duke Blue Devils have produced the most first overall picks in NBA history. In 1963, Art Heyman became the first Blue Devil to be selected first in the NBA Draft, joining the New York Knicks. Heyman led Duke to their first-ever Final Four appearance in 1963 and later won a championship in the inaugural ABA season with the Pittsburgh Pipers in 1968.

When Mike Krzyzewski took over the program in 1980, Duke started consistently producing top talent. In 1999, the Blue Devils made a run to the National Championship with Elton Brand, who became the next Duke product to go No. 1 overall that year. Brand was selected by the Chicago Bulls and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award. While he may not have been considered a top-five player in the league, Brand had a successful career and remained productive for a long time.

Similar to Kentucky, Duke has experienced a fruitful period in the 2010s when it comes to NBA prospects. In 2011, Kyrie Irving was selected as the first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, despite playing only 11 games for Coach K. Irving went on to hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history and continues to be recognized as one of the league’s elite guards.

Zion Williamson, one of the most viral high school prospects ever, arrived at Duke in 2019 with widespread recognition. His dominant performance during their run to the Elite Eight further confirmed his exceptional talent. Unfortunately, injuries have significantly limited him thus far, and it is hoped that he will have the opportunity to showcase his special abilities fully.

The most recent No. 1 overall pick was also a Duke Blue Devil, with Paolo Banchero being selected first in the 2022 NBA Draft. Banchero led the Blue Devils to a runner-up finish in Coach K’s final season and later joined the Orlando Magic. He impressively won the Rookie of the Year award, and his future looks bright in the NBA.

Next. Cavaliers Draft: The best players at pick No. 49 in NBA history. dark

Kentucky and Duke have been dominant forces in the NBA Draft since 2010, consistently producing lottery prospects. However, the trend of top talents choosing to stay overseas or join the G-League will pose challenges for any school seeking to have multiple top picks in the near future.