If You’re Aiming for Basketball’s Big Leagues, Maybe Move Here

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in America. Kids from all races, cultures, economic states and walks of life harbor dreams of one day sinking a basketball into a hoop on a massive pro court.

According to a recent study by sidelines.io, some states give kids, statistically, the best chance to become professional basketball players per million people. The most professional players are in California, no surprise, but other states come out on top when you compare population size to the number of players produced before they hit the big leagues.

Factors Included In The Study

The study by odds comparison experts sidelines.io analyzed multiple factors contributing to a states basketball reputation, such as the number of NBA and WNBA players, Hall of Fame inductees, number of professional and division 1 college teams, and championships won in the 21st century to establish which states have the richest basketball history.

California Tops The Ultimate Ranking of Basketball States

The analysis revealed that California has the strongest history for basketball, the highest number of all-time NBA players at 426, including 20 Hall of Fame members, along with the highest number of current WNBA players coming from the state with 18. This all equates to approximately 11 professional basketball players per 1,000,000 in California.

The state is home to the most professional and division 1 collegiate teams, with 36 in total, and has also won the highest number of championships since 2000. Dynasties from the early 2000s Los Angeles Lakers and the 2015-19 Golden State Warriors, along with success from the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks, add up to 14 championships, all of which help put California at the top of the basketball’s powerhouse states.

A spokesperson for sidelines.io commented on the study, saying: “California is America’s most populated state, and its contribution to basketball history has been immense. The state is the home of storied franchises like the Lakers, the Warriors, and the Sparks, which have featured great players from across the country and the world, but it has also produced an impressive number of professional players too. Connecticut and North Carolina also place high in the rankings, showing how important college basketball is, with both states home to influential schools that have a proud basketball heritage.”

Best States for Basketball, sidelines.io

Surprising Finds From The Study

While California has the richest basketball background in America, the research has revealed that four states actually offer the best chance for kids to become professional basketball players based on population.

Here are the four states with the highest professional basketball players per 1 million people:


Mississippi tops the charts with the most number of players per 1 million playing professional basketball. The state has a small population of 2,961,536, which means that, on average, there are roughly 31 professional basketball players per 1,000,000.

Compare that number to California’s 11, and you can easily see the opportunity for kids playing basketball in the state of Mississippi. The state has 94 professional basketball players and 6 Division 1 collegiate programs, most notably the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).


A small population of 4,616,106, which means that, on average, there are roughly 27 professional basketball players per 1,000,000 in Louisana. The state has one NBA team, 127 professional basketball players, and 12 Division 1 collegiate programs, most notably Louisiana State University.


The Bluegrass state has a small population of 4,487,233, which means that, on average, there are roughly 26 professional basketball players per 1,000,000.  The state has 117 professional basketball players and 7 Division 1 collegiate programs, most notably the University of Kentucky. According to Wikipedia, the University of Kentucky is the most successful Division 1 basketball program in history in terms of all-time winning percentage.


The fourth best state is Indiana, which has 161 NBA and WNBA players, including eight Hall of Fame members. The state has a small population of 6,691,878, which means that, on average, there are roughly 24 professional basketball players per 1,000,000.

There are 13 teams in the state, made up of 10 collegiate programs and one of each of the professional leagues, NBA, WNBA, and G-League. The women’s teams have been the successful ones in Indiana, with one title from the WNBA team, Indiana Fever, and two championships from the University of Notre Dame, summing up to three for the state.

New York State Represents In The Basketball Hall of Fame

New York does have the highest number of Hall of Fame members at 31 and a total of 430 professional basketball players, the second-highest in the country. However, because New York teams have struggled in recent years, with Syracuse winning the state’s only championship since 2000, it means it finishes in 16th overall.

Alaska Has The Least Impact

Alaska has the least impact on basketball history at the other end of the scale. The state has a low number of basketball players, with two all-time NBA players and two WNBA players. This is a total of four players from a state with a population of 737,438, resulting in an average of five players per 1,000,000. Alaska also has no professional team or division 1 collegiate program, meaning it also has no championships. But they probably top the best places for Hockey players to live list.

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Featured Image Credit: Unsplash.

Casandra is the founder of Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel and a mother to two adventurous young boys. Casandra is a family-focused, adventure travel advocate.

A Toronto native with Danish roots, she became an avid traveler after her first trip to Europe as a college student. Casandra’s goal is to provide an educational experience for her family when she travels. When visiting historic sites like D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, or learning about ranch life at a dude ranch on horseback, it’s always a priority to provide an educational experience and to learn about the culture and history of each destination.

You can follow her adventures at karpiakcaravan or get in touch via her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.