The Best Educated Jazz Players Of The 21st Century

Mar 31, 2020, 10:39 AM | Updated: 9:29 pm

Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs handles the ball against Duane Notice #10 of the Sou...

Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs handles the ball against Duane Notice #10 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In 2005, the NBA instituted Article X into the league’s collective bargaining agreement, requiring all NBA players to be 19 years old, and one year removed from high school. More commonly referred to as the one-and-done rule, the prep-to-pro ban has changed the face of the NBA and college basketball since its adoption in the early 2000s.

One of the results of the one-and-done rule has been a radical change in perspective in the role of education for future NBA players. Many players who would have jumped to the league from high school are forced to take scholarships from players who may have pursued a degree during their athletic career. Additionally, as a result of the growing trend from seeing college players leave after their freshman year, more sophomore and junior players are declaring for the draft before receiving their degree.

With college graduates becoming an increasing rarity in the NBA, KSL Sports has assembled a list to celebrate the Utah Jazz players from the 21st century with the best college degrees.

Nigel Williams-Goss: G – Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Gonzaga University

Nigel Williams-Goss has one of the most impressive college degrees of any Jazz player in the last 20 years. Williams-Goss received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Gonzaga and was working on his Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership before making the leap to pro basketball.

Williams-Goss graduated with a 3.8 GPA from the private school and was named an Academic All-American.

Grayson Allen: SG – Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Duke University

Grayson Allen played for the Jazz for just one season before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a deal that brought back point guard Mike Conley. Before his time with the Jazz, Allen spent four years at Duke University.

Duke is regularly ranked as one of the 10 best schools in the country and is where Allen earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Allen also won a national championship with the Blue Devils in 2015, before being selected by the Jazz with the 21st pick of the 2018 draft by the Jazz.

Jack Cooley: C – Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Notre Dame 

Jack Cooley only spent two years in the NBA, but with a finance degree from the Mendoza College of Business, he out to be able to put his modest career earnings to good use. Notre Dame’s business school is consistently ranked as the best in the country.

As it stands, Cooley may not have to rely on his education to further his earnings just yet. After one season with the Jazz Cooley spent a year with the Sacramento Kings before signing with the Italian club Dinamo Sassari of the LBA.

Randy Foye: SG – Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and a minor in Sociology from  Villanova University

In the history of Jazz basketball, perhaps no player has overcome more than guard Randy Foye. Both of Foye’s parents were killed by the time the guard was five years old, and as a result, was raised by his grandmother in New Jersey.

Additionally, Foye has an ultra-rare congenital condition called situs inversus in which all of his major internal organs are reversed from their normal positions.

Despite this adversity, Foye rose to become one of the best-educated players in Jazz history.  The guard, who spent the 2012-13 season with the Jazz received a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from Villanova Univesity, while minoring in Sociology.

Foye now helps to run the Randy Foye Foundation, helping underprivileged youth in New Jersey.

Josh Howard: SF – Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Wake Forest University

If you’re looking at the recent history of well educated NBA stars, Wake Forest may rise above the rest of schools with alumni like Chris Paul and Tim Duncan to claim as their own. Another former Jazzman and former All-Star can also claim the Demon Deacons among his roots.

Josh Howard spent just one season with the Jazz but easily qualifies for this list with a Bachelors’s Degree in Religion from Wake Forest. Wake’s Theology and Religion School is one of the 50 best in the country where Howard earned his degree before his decade long NBA career.

Wesley Matthews: SF – Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising with a minor in Marketing at Marquette University

Wesley Matthews has one of the best stories in recent NBA memory. After going undrafted in 2009,  an injury to Jazz guard CJ Miles created a need for a player of Matthew’s skillset and the rest is history.

Now in his 11th year, Matthews has earned more than $100 million in his career but likely would have been fine without the NBA. The NBA vet earned a Bachelor’s Degree in advertising with a minor in marketing in four years at Marquette.

Jarron Collins: C – Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University

There may be no more respected degree on the west coast than a degree from Stanford. Former center Jarron Collins graduated from Stanford in 2001 with a degree in Urban Studies before being selected by the Jazz with the 53rd pick of the 2001 NBA draft.

Collins spent 10 seasons in the NBA, including his first eight in Utah. The brother of twin Jason, Collins is now back in northern California as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.

Brevin Knight: PG – Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Stanford University

Like Collins, Brevin Knight holds a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Knight was a star of the Cardinal teams that helped turn Stanford basketball around before becoming a first-round pick in 1997.

Knight spent the final season of his career with the Jazz in 2008-09 but has continued to hang around the NBA. The former NBA guard is a color analyst for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Matt Harpring: F – Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Georgia Tech

Speaking of well-educated color analysts, the Jazz can be proud to say they have one of their own. Current broadcast analyst and former Jazzman Matt Harpring has one of the best educations available in the United States.

Harpring earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The former Jazz forward didn’t just graduate from Tech however, he excelled in his time as a student. As a senior, Harpring was named as an Academic All-American.

John Amaechi: C – Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Penn State University

It’s well known that John Amaechi wasn’t the world’s most dedicated basketball player, instead owing his passions to the world of education.

Amaechi began his career at Vanderbilt, one of the country’s most prestigious schools before transferring to Penn State to finish his basketball career and degree and was named the most outstanding Men’s Basketball Academic All-American. After a seven-year NBA career, American Psychological Association (APA), the British Psychological Society (BPS), and the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology.

John Crotty: PG – Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Virginia 

Regularly regarded as one of the best schools in America, Virginia has put its fair share of talent into the NBA who could otherwise go onto bright futures with their education.

One of those players, John Crotty, made two stops with the Jazz after a remarkable four-year career with the Cavaliers that earned the guard a Bachelor’s Degree in history from the school.

Crotty is now a color analyst with the Miami Heat but got more from Virginia than just his degree. The 11-year veteran also met his wife Kara at the school, where his two daughters have followed in their footsteps. In addition, Crotty is now a member o the Orange Bowl Committee in South Florida.

Jacque Vaughn: PG – Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Kansas University

While Kansas isn’t traditionally known as one of the top academic institutions in the country, former Jazz guard Jacque Vaughn owns a distinction that only one other Jazz player can claim. Like Amaechi, the former Jayhawk was named the Most Outstanding Men’s Basketball Academic All-American in 1996.

Vaughn graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Kansas sporting a 3.7 GPA before spending the next 12 years in the NBA.

The former Jazz guard is currently the interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Quin Snyder: Head Coach – Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Political Science, J.D .and MBA from Duke University

Though Quin Snyder never played for the Jazz, his academic accomplishments stack up with the best of any player or coach in NBA history. After a four year career at Duke that included three trips to the NCAA Final Four, Snyder skipped a shot at the pros to pursue his education.

Snyder first graduated from Duke with a double-major in Philosophy and Political science in the late ’80s, before turning to Duke and earning his Juris Doctor Law Degree in 1995. At the same time, Snyder was earning his Masters of Business Administration from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business where both specialties rank among the 10 best in the country.

Though Snyder’s love for basketball has kept him in the coaching ranks, it’s not hard to imagine the former Blue Devil rising to the top of any professional with his impressive educational history.

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The Best Educated Jazz Players Of The 21st Century