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Tom Oates: Ranking Wisconsin's top 10 basketball players by NBA performance
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Tom Oates: Ranking Wisconsin's top 10 basketball players by NBA performance

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State high schools haven't exactly flooded the NBA with talent over the last 70 years, but Wisconsin has produced a few all-stars, 20-point scorers and NBA champions.

For much of the time since the NBA took its current form, however, there was one conspicuous absence from the list of the top 10 NBA players from the state: Anyone from a Madison high school.

Indeed, until former Madison Memorial star and current Milwaukee Bucks starting guard Wesley Matthews came along, Madison high schools had produced no NBA players of consequence. And Matthews, in his 11th NBA season after going undrafted out of Marquette, is climbing the state's top-10 list year by year.

Prior to Matthews hitting it big, Madison was no factor in supplying the NBA with players. Central's Joe Franklin (1968) and La Follette's Gary Anderson (1974) and Rick Olson (1986) were drafted by NBA teams after playing at the University of Wisconsin, Franklin and Anderson in the fifth round and Olson in the seventh. None made an NBA roster, however.

West's Reece Gaines offered hope as a first-round draft pick in 2003 after a stellar career at Louisville, but he played just three seasons in the league, scoring 123 points in 71 games. Memorial's Vander Blue went undrafted after leaving Marquette in 2013, then played in 10 games over three NBA seasons, scoring 30 points.

And that's it for Madison preps. The rest of the state's top 10 NBA players hail from elsewhere, elsewhere meaning the Milwaukee area.

What follows is a subjective top-10 list of state players with the best NBA careers:


Tom Oates has been part of the Wisconsin State Journal sports department since 1980 and became its editorial voice in 1996, traversing the state and country to bring readers a Madison perspective on the biggest sports stories of the day.

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