- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Connecticut has passed Duke as the school with the most players in the NBA.

The Huskies have 14 players in the league, thanks to four first-round draft picks last year — Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone.

The Blue Devils are up to 13 players with the addition of rookies Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick, and North Carolina is up to 12 with second-round draft pick David Noel and the return of Shammond Williams to the league.

Connecticut could field an NBA playoff team: Williams, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Charlie Villanueva and Emeka Okafor, with Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon coming off the bench.

Duke produces plenty of solid forwards but not many guards. Chris Duhon and Redick would be the starting backcourt. But the forwards include Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Shane Battier, Luol Deng and Grant Hill.

North Carolina’s team could compete with Connecticut’s: Raymond Felton, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Rasheed Wallace and Sean May. Jerry Stackhouse is the sixth man.

Arizona has 10 players in the NBA, and almost all of the Wildcats’ talent is at point guard — Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Damon Stoudamire.

Among local schools, Maryland is down to six players with Lonny Baxter out of the league.

Georgetown has five players, all of them big men, except for Allen Iverson.

George Washington has two players — rookies Mike Hall and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

In the past 10 years, the number of international players and players coming to the NBA straight out of high school has increased exponentially.

In 1995, Kevin Garnett was the first player to enter the league straight from high school since the 1970s.

Now there are 34 such players in the league.

The staring lineup for the all-high school team would be Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire. The bench would include Dwight Howard, Jermaine O’Neal and Rashard Lewis.

Seven of the 24 players in the All-Star Game entered the league straight out of high school.

Three more players in the game, plus the injured Yao Ming, are from another country and did not attend a school in the United States.

The NBA includes 53 international players, a concept the Western Conference teams have embraced much more than the Eastern Conference.

The former union of Serbia & Montenegro leads the list with nine players, including Peja Stojakovic and Darko Milicic.

Of course, the amount of NBA talent on a roster often doesn’t matter in college.

Last season, George Mason (no NBA players) beat Connecticut and its four first-round draft picks.

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