We’ve got some good news and some bad news for Chicago hoops fans. The good news is with 88 players in Division I this season, Chicago is the second-most represented city, according to research by Jake Sharpless of Rukkus. The bad news is the city in first is New York, that bitter rival on the East Coast with
better actual pizza, and the Big Apple takes the cake by a few dozen players. (Granted, New York’s population is about three times as large, so Chicago has better representation per capita.)
Still, having 88 players in Division I basketball is a good sign for Chicago and probably not a surprise. The city has been a hotbed of basketball talent for decades.
Here are a few interesting takeaways on Chicago players:
—Chicago natives traveled on average 551 miles for college and are represented in 27 of the 32 Division I conferences. The average D-1 player travels 960 miles, or close to twice as far. Morgan Park product Charlie Moore traveled the farthest of any Chicagoan, heading 1,844 miles west to Cal.
—Northwestern has the most localized roster among the five Chicago schools with players traveling an average of 414 miles from home, followed in order by Chicago State (491), UIC (696), DePaul (774) and Loyola (1,056). It’s no surprise the Ramblers are the least localized with three European players on this year’s squad.
Here’s a full look at every Division I school and the average distance from its players’ hometowns.
—This is not Chicago-related, but defending national champion Villanova has the second-most localized roster in Division I with players hailing from an average of 128 miles away. Players at little ol’ NJIT travel only 39 miles to make up by far the most localized roster in the nation. The least localized roster is, unsurprisingly, Hawaii at 4,031 miles.
—20 Chicago natives remained in-state, with Chicago State (5) and Illinois (4) taking the bulk. In fact, Illinois has one of the most localized rosters in all of college basketball with athletes coming from an average of 197 miles away. That’s No. 11 in the country and No. 2 in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.
—Local fans and coaches stress the importance of local talent staying in the state, and this research backs up their concerns that too many players are heading to other parts of the country. With only 22.7% of local talent sticking around for college, Chicago ranks 10th out of the 12 cities with the most Division I athletes. Houston leads the group with 34.7% of local talent staying in-state.
—As a state, Illinois produced 272 Division I players, or 5.94% of the national crop. Texas (408 players, 8.91%) and California (384 players, 8.39%) were the two states that beat out Illinois in this category.
—Illinois has 2.12 players per every 100,000 people, which ranks 7th in the nation. Maryland leads this statistic with 2.70 players per capita, followed by Louisiana at 2.59. So although Texas and California produce the most Division I players, you can see a large part of that is those states have huge populations. Per capita, Texas is tied for 15th and California is 36th.
If you’re interested in a broader look, here’s a map that shows where every player in Division I hoops calls home. Use the tab in the top left corner to sort between Power 5, high major, mid major, and low major players, and zoom out with the button in the bottom left.