There are few better places to be for college basketball this season than Syracuse, where the No. 2 Orange gave Jim Boeheim his 880th coaching victory to move him past Dean Smith earlier this month. Boeheim has taken the Orange program to new heights in his 36 years at the helm, recruiting a large fraction of the best hoopsters ever to play for the school.
The latest addition to that pantheon is Scoop Jardine, the senior point guard who keeps the offense clicking for this season's Orange squad. Jardine has spent his career climbing the school’s all-time assist charts, dishing out five per game in 2011-12.
Read on for a closer look at Jardine and where he fits among the 50 greatest players ever to take the floor for the Orange.
Although he played just two seasons before transferring home to Detroit, James Thues made his mark as a game-changing defender.
The 5’10” point guard racked up 101 steals as a Syracuse sophomore, tying Jason Hart's single-season school record.
Given Thues’ small stature, it’s no surprise that he went undrafted out of college. He never played in the NBA.
Although he was only a shadow of his Hall of Fame father Dolph, Danny Schayes developed into a fine center by the end of his Syracuse career.
The 6’11” Schayes averaged 14.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a night that season after three years on the bench.
The notoriously immobile Schayes started only intermittently in the NBA, though he was actually halfway decent when he got the opportunity.
As a Nugget in 1987-88, he posted career bests of 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, and his height kept him in the league for 18 years in all.
Though he could hardly match that other one-and-done Syracuse freshman for college success, Donte Greene put in a strong showing in his one season with the Orange. Greene averaged 17.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a night in his pre-NBA pit stop.
In four years in Sacramento, Greene has bounced in and out of the lineup for the rebuilding Kings. He’s right around his career averages with 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game so far this season.
Like so many Syracuse swingmen, Dave Johnson was a force on the glass, averaging as many as seven boards a game from his perimeter spot.
His primary job, though, was attacking the basket, and he scored 1,614 career points to rank 15th in program history.
The Blazers took a flyer on Johnson at the end of the first round, but it didn’t pan out. In two seasons on two loaded rosters (one in Portland and one with the Bulls during Michael Jordan’s baseball hiatus), Johnson played a total of 59 NBA games.
Wesley Johnson played just one season for Syracuse after transferring from Iowa State, but he made his time with the Orange count.
The 6’7” SF averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a night while helping lead a largely inexperienced squad to the 2010 Sweet 16.
Johnson’s NBA career is off to a solid start, even if he’s currently toiling for a mediocre Timberwolves team. As a rookie last year, he averaged nine points a game while shooting .356 from three-point range.
Although he never had enough offensive chops to win a full-time starting job, Conrad McRae was a first-rate post defender for Syracuse. The 6’9” McRae blocked 203 shots with the Orangemen, good for 10th-place on the program’s all-time list.
A second-round pick for Washington, McRae didn’t make the team. After several seasons overseas, he was making another run at an NBA roster when, tragically, he suffered a heart attack in a Magic summer-league practice and died at age 29.
The 6’3” combo guard Dennis DuVal gave the Syracuse offense whatever it needed from him over three collegiate seasons.
As a sophomore he deferred to high-scoring Greg Kohls and served as more of a distributor, but in his final two seasons, he averaged a combined 20.1 points per game while helping the team start a streak that would ultimately grow to eight-straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Sweet D wound up as a second-round pick for Washington, but he flopped miserably at the NBA level. In a career lasting all of 50 games, DuVal averaged a paltry 1.9 points and 0.7 assists per contest.
Swingman Erich Santifer was merely competent as a rebounder (5.6 boards a game in his best year), but he made up for it with outstanding scoring ability.
Four seasons of double-digit averages let him post a career total of 1,845 points (11th-highest in school history).
Santifer, who didn’t have world-class shooting range, lasted until the third round of the 1983 draft. He couldn’t crack Detroit’s roster and never played in the NBA.
A sweet-shooting PF who topped 50 percent from the field as a sophomore, Marty Byrnes got the most from his limited height. The 6’7” Byrnes averaged as many as 16.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game in a Syracuse uniform.
Byrnes went on to a brief but respectable career as an NBA backup. Despite limited minutes, he averaged as many as 7.8 points a game (with the Mavericks, one of his five pro teams in four years).
A valuable complementary player on the 1996 Orangemen squad that went to the Final Four, Todd Burgan blossomed into an outstanding scorer who poured in 17.6 points a night as a senior.
He was even tougher on defense, using his length on the perimeter (at 6’7”) to rack up 192 career steals, 10th-most in program history.
Versatile though Burgan was, he went undrafted out of Syracuse. He never played in the NBA.
Overshadowed most of his career by Etan Thomas, Damone Brown came into his own as a senior. The agile power forward averaged 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a night that season, not to mention pitching in on defense with 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks a game.
Brown’s lack of bulk (just 200 lbs on his 6’9” frame) caught up with him in the NBA, where he never really found a niche. He landed on four rosters in as many seasons, but played a total of just 39 games in his NBA career.
Overshadowed on his own teams by campus legends Pearl Washington and Rony Seikaly, Rafael Addison quietly became one of Syracuse’s all-time great scorers. His career total of 1,876 points is the 10th-best in program history.
Addison became a journeyman NBA player, though he did average as many as 8.3 points per game off the bench (for a thin Detroit squad in 1994-95).
The most remarkable aspect of his pro career was the gap in the middle of it: After an unremarkable rookie year in Phoenix, he went to Italy for five seasons before returning to the states as a Net.
The star of Jim Boeheim’s inaugural recruiting class, Louis Orr was a long, lean power forward with a fine shooting touch.
Orr averaged as many as 16 points and 8.5 boards a night for the Orangemen, where he shared top billing with Roosevelt Bouie in the “Louie and Bouie” frontcourt (pictured, with Orr on the left).
Orr went on to a solid NBA career as a part-time starter with Indiana and New York. In his best season, he averaged 12.7 points and 4.9 rebounds a game for the pre-Ewing Knicks.
In three seasons after transferring from Minnesota, Leo Rautins made a name for himself as an outstanding point forward. Rautins dished out 423 assists (10th-best in program history) in his career with the Orangemen.
A first-round pick of the 76ers, Rautins rarely left the bench on that loaded roster. He played just 32 career games (four with Atlanta), averaging 1.5 points and one assist a night.
Although SG Jim Lee put up solid numbers in his Syracuse career—including 17.2 points a game as a senior—his place on this list owes more to his team’s performances.
Lee was a leader on the 1974-75 Orangemen squad that made the first Final Four appearance in program history, and he poured in a team-high 23 points in the national semifinal loss to Kentucky.
Lee’s postseason heroics helped get him drafted by Cleveland, but not until the fifth round. He never played in the NBA.
After barely leaving the bench as a sophomore, Greg Kohls exploded to give Syracuse two years of superlative backcourt scoring. The sweet-shooting Kohls averaged 26.7 points a game as a senior, the second-best season in school history.
At 6’1”, he was awfully small for an NBA shooting guard even in 1972. Although Kohls was drafted by the Buffalo Braves (now the Clippers) in the seventh round, he never played in the league.
In a college career split by a WWII military stint, Bill Gabor became one of the first big stars in Syracuse history.
The 5’11” swingman averaged double figures in all four of his collegiate seasons, setting the school’s scoring record at a then-lofty 1,344 career points.
Gabor’s quickness—which earned him the nickname “Bullet Bill”—served him well in the fledgling NBA.
In six years with the hometown Syracuse Nationals (now the Sixers) he became the first Orangeman to make an NBA All-Star team as one of Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes’ running mates.
Even with Syracuse’s impressive history of frontcourt players, there haven’t been a whole lot of true seven-footers. Craig Forth was an exception, and he turned his length to good account by blocking 205 shots, the ninth-best total in school history.
Forth shot an extraordinary percentage from the field (.598 for his career), but never scored more than 5.7 points a game at Syracuse. That lack of offensive punch helped ensure that he went undrafted, and he’s never played in the NBA.
A 6’6” swingman who knew how to play the passing lanes, Dale Shackleford recorded 207 career steals to place ninth in Syracuse history. He wasn’t a half-bad scorer, either, finishing just shy of 1,500 points as a collegian.
Although Shackleford was drafted by the Suns, he stayed on the board until the sixth round. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t crack the roster and never played in the NBA.
In a meteoric two-year career with the Orange, Jonny Flynn averaged 16.6 points and six assists per contest. Despite his short stay on campus, he managed to dish out 439 assists, eighth-most in program history.
After a pair of much-reviled years in Minnesota, Flynn has been planted firmly on the bench for the Rockets this season. Even in minimal playing time, though, he’s dishing out 2.4 assists a night when he does get into a game.
Jeremy McNeil wasn’t the tallest post player at 6’8”, but his 257-lb bulk helped him lock down the paint for Syracuse. McNeil blocked 260 shots at Syracuse—mostly off the bench—to place sixth in school history in that category.
McNeil went undrafted by the NBA, though he did get a cup of coffee in the D-League. In 11 games there, he averaged all of 1.9 points and 0.4 blocks a night.
After three seasons as a little-used reserve, Lazarus Sims turned in a senior year for the ages at point guard.
Sims dished out 7.4 assists a game for the 1996 Final Four squad, the best season for any non-Sherman Douglas Orangeman and enough to let him finish ninth in school history with 432 career assists.
The low-scoring Sims went undrafted and never played in the NBA. For the last five years, he’s been an assistant under Jim Boeheim at his alma mater.
A slender 6’8” forward, Demetris Nichols was most at home outside the three-point line. Nichols drained 205 career treys, fifth-best in Syracuse history.
Like many late-second-round picks, Nichols floundered in the NBA. He had a remarkable (if ugly) ratio of one team for every six career games, making a total of 18 appearances for the Bulls, Cavs and Knicks.
SG Eric Devendorf was a first-class three-point gunner whose 208 career treys rank fourth all-time at Syracuse. That marksmanship helped him rack up 1,680 points, the 14th-highest total in program history.
Undrafted out of school, Devendorf wound up in the D-League but hasn’t managed to stick anywhere yet. He’s in his second stint with Reno after being traded from Idaho earlier this month, posting a combined 8.1 points a game on the season.
Darryl Watkins’ middle name is "Finesse," but his game was anything but. The hulking 6’11”, 258-lb center rejected the fifth-most shots (273) for any Orange player in history.
Watkins signed with the Kings as an undrafted free agent, but couldn’t stick on the roster. He lasted just nine games in the NBA and is currently playing overseas.
Although Preston Shumpert was an opportunistic defender who twice averaged 1.9 steals a game at Syracuse, he’ll be better remembered for his shooting.
His devastating long-range game—249 three-pointers made, third-most in program history—helped him score a total of 1,907 points, eighth-best all-time at the school.
Shumpert’s college career was marred by persistent rumors of personality clashes with teammates (notably DeShaun Williams), a situation that couldn’t have gone unnoticed by NBA scouts. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
A bruising 6’9”, 240-lb center, Rick Jackson placed eighth in Syracuse history with 930 career boards. He was also a force in the middle of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, blocking 259 shots (seventh-most for an Orange player).
The offensively-challenged Jackson wasn’t drafted out of school. He’s currently playing in Europe.
Although he never approached the stardom of classmate Derrick Coleman, Stephen Thompson proved an able perimeter complement to Coleman’s low-post presence.
Despite being one of the worst three-point shooters ever to start for Jim Boeheim at the two-guard spot, Thompson slashed his way to 1,956 career points, the seventh-highest total in program history.
Undrafted out of school, Thompson signed as a free agent with Orlando, then again (after being waived) with Sacramento. He played just 19 career games between the two clubs, averaging 1.6 points a night.
Scoop Jardine’s numbers are down a bit from his stellar junior year, but it’s hard to imagine that the Orange floor leader is complaining. A 29-1 record and the nation’s No. 2 ranking will cure a lot of ills.
Jardine is still dishing out five assists a night, and he’s climbed all the way to No. 6 on the program’s career assist chart (588 and counting). It remains to be seen, of course, whether he can round out his Syracuse resume with a national championship.
The senior star of Syracuse’s first-ever Final Four squad in 1975, Rudy Hackett was a sensational 6’9” power forward.
He averaged 22.2 points and 12.7 boards a game that season, capping a career in which he pulled in 990 rebounds (second-best at the school when he graduated and still good for sixth all-time).
Hackett landed in the ABA out of Syracuse, becoming a competent bench player in one season with the Spirits of St. Louis. After the merger, though, the NBA had little use for him and his career lasted just six more games.
Adrian Autry was one of the most complete guards ever to play for Syracuse. The 6’4” Autry could score (16.7 points a game as a senior), defend (217 career steals, sixth in program history) and pass (631 assists, fifth).
Undrafted out of school, Autry never played in the NBA. He’s found more success in coaching, where he’s in his first season as an assistant at his alma mater.
The low-post star of Syracuse’s first-ever NCAA tournament team in 1957, Jon Cincebox set the bar high for Orangemen rebounders.
His 1,004 career boards stood as a school record for three decades, and it’s still good for fifth on the program’s all-time charts.
Although Cincebox was also an outstanding scorer (19 points a game in each of his last two seasons), he lasted until the hometown Nationals (now the 76ers) grabbed him in the third round of the 1959 draft.
With Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes in his prime in the Nationals’ frontcourt, Cincebox couldn’t crack the roster and never played in the NBA.
A first-rate floor general who dished out 539 assists (seventh-most in school history), Eddie Moss was even more dangerous when he didn't have the ball.
Moss’s great instincts and quick hands let him snag 230 steals, the fourth-best total for any Orangeman.
Although Moss earned a second-round selection from Dallas, the low-scoring guard couldn’t make the roster. He never played in the NBA.
Although 6’4” Andy Rautins didn’t get his father Leo’s height, he made up for it with shooting touch.
One of the heroes of the Orange’s epic sextuple-OT win over UConn in the 2009 Big East tournament, Rautins drained 282 career three-pointers to rank second in Syracuse history.
Rautins flopped in his brief Knicks tryout, appearing in just five games as a rookie. He was shipped to Dallas as part of the Tyson Chandler trade, but has headed overseas to continue his career.
Until he was a junior, smooth-shooting Billy Owens had to share the ball with two of the top seven scorers in Syracuse history (Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson).
Nevertheless, Owens’ breakout third season—in which he averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds a night—capped an outstanding career in which he climbed to 12th on the school’s charts with 1,840 points.
Owens went on to a productive career as a complementary scorer in the NBA, chipping in 11.7 points a night over the course of a 10-year career.
He was at his best on the run-and-gun Warriors (who made him the third overall pick in the 1991 draft), averaging as many as 15 points and 8.1 rebounds a game for Don Nelson’s squad.
A contemporary of football legend Jim Brown on the Syracuse campus, Vinnie Cohen was one of the first major African-American stars for the school.
Undersized for a forward even in that era at 6’1”, Cohen could get to the rim against bigger players—to the tune of 24.2 points a game in his senior season, when he helped lead the Orangemen to the first NCAA tournament bid in school history.
Cohen was picked by the hometown Syracuse Nationals (now the 76ers) in the third round of the draft. He opted for another career, though, staying on campus to earn his law degree.
Roosevelt Bouie’s 6’11” frame helped make him an elite rebounder who pulled in 987 boards (seventh-best in Syracuse history).
He was even more overpowering as a shot-blocker, where he ranks second all-time among Orangemen with 327 rejections for his career.
A second-round pick of the Mavericks, Bouie didn’t like the team’s contract offer and headed to Europe instead. He became a superstar in Italy, earning a spot in that country’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Although Hakim Warrick’s most memorable play was a blocked shot (the rejection on Kansas’ Michael Lee that sealed the 2003 national title for the Orangemen), his real talents lay in other areas.
The 6'9" Warrick ranks fifth in Syracuse history with 2,073 career points and fourth with 1,025 career rebounds.
Warrick hasn’t managed to land a regular starting job at the NBA level, but he’s been a terrific backup. Now in his second season with the Suns, he’s scuffling a bit in 2011-12, averaging seven points and 2.5 rebounds a game off the bench.
Built like a brick wall (and with only slightly better leaping ability), Etan Thomas muscled his way to 11 points and 6.9 boards per game in his Syracuse career.
He didn’t have extraordinary length at 6’9”, but he was still a devastating shot-blocker whose 424 career rejections crushed the school record in that category by nearly 100.
Thomas hasn’t played in 2011-12, suggesting that the injuries that have nagged him throughout his career may finally have caught up to him.
When healthy, he’s been a shaky scorer but a respectable rebounder off the bench (4.7 boards a night for his career, mostly as a Wizard).
One of the all-time great Orangemen rebounders, Bill Smith averaged 12.9 boards a game for his career (third-best in school history).
He was just as effective as an interior scorer, reaching 1,000 career points in a mere 50 games (second-fastest for a Syracuse player).
Smith learned to his regret that not every seven-footer is cut out for the NBA. He played just 30 games over two seasons with Portland, though he did average 6.8 points and 4.8 boards off the bench.
The Big East’s record books are filled with New York City playground stars who have made good as collegians, and one of the early success stories was Dwayne “Pearl” Washington.
The 6’2” point guard nailed Syracuse’s most famous buzzer-beater as a freshman (from half-court at the Carrier Dome against Boston College) and finished his career with 1,490 points and 637 assists—the latter total placing him fourth all-time among Orangemen.
A lottery pick of the Nets, Washington was decidedly a bust in the NBA. He lasted just three seasons, topping out at only 9.3 points and 4.2 assists per game in that time.
Arriving at Syracuse on the heels of a Final Four run, Jason Hart immediately jumped in as the starting point guard.
He held that role for all four years of his career, dishing out the second-most assists in program history (709) and claiming the school record with 329 steals.
Hart’s lackluster NBA career appears to have ended, as he hasn’t played since 2009-10.
He had one strong year as a Bobcats reserve, averaging 9.5 points and five assists a game, but was a disappointment for the rest of his decade in the league.
In the record books as on the court, Rony Seikaly is inextricably linked to teammate and low-post partner Derrick Coleman, with whom he led Syracuse to the 1987 title game.
The 6’11” Seikaly is tied with Coleman at 319 career blocks (third in school history), and his 1,094 rebounds are second only to Coleman among Orangemen all-time.
Seikaly played 11 seasons as a solid, if unspectacular, NBA center. He spent his prime with the Heat, who made him the first draft pick in franchise history and were rewarded with six strong years, topping out with averages of 17.1 points and 11.8 boards a night.
Shooting guard Lawrence Moten was a fine defender—215 career steals, eighth in school history—and the best pure scorer ever to wear an Orangemen uniform.
His 197 three-pointers made were a school record when he graduated (and still good for sixth place), he still holds the Orange record with 2,334 points, and his 1,405 points in Big East play are a record for the entire conference.
Moten’s NBA career bore no resemblance to his collegiate brilliance.
Even in the best of his three pro seasons, he averaged just 6.7 points a game as an occasional starter for the woeful Grizzlies (who had made him the second draft pick in franchise history, one round after Bryant “Big Country” Reeves).
A 6’8” power forward with outstanding mobility, John Wallace led Syracuse to its third-ever Final Four appearance in 1996. For his career with the Orangemen, he ranks third in school history in both points (2,119) and rebounds (1,065).
Wallace lacked the above-the-rim game to start regularly in the NBA, but he was a fine backup for five different teams over seven seasons.
He had his best season playing alongside Marcus Camby in Toronto, averaging 14.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a night as a part-time starter.
A dazzling rebounder for a 6’3” guard, Dave Bing averaged as many as 12 boards a night for the Orangemen. Of course, he was really on the floor for his scoring, and his career average of 24.8 points a game still stands as the school record.
Unlike many Syracuse stars, Bing found even greater success at the NBA level. He averaged 20.3 points and six assists per game over a 12-year Hall of Fame career spent mostly with Detroit.
It takes some doing to make an impression when you’re a classmate of Carmelo Anthony’s, but Gerry McNamara carved out his own legend at Syracuse.
The fan-favorite sharpshooter ranks in Syracuse’s top four all-time in points (2,099), three-pointers made (a school-record-shattering 400), assists (648) and steals (258).
McNamara never got closer to the NBA than two seasons in the D-League, where he averaged 11 points and 5.2 assists a game for Bakersfield in his best year. He’s currently back at his alma mater as an assistant coach under Jim Boeheim.
Derrick Coleman narrowly missed out on being the greatest postseason hero in Syracuse history, but his school-record 19-rebound effort in the 1987 championship game was marred by a crucial missed free throw that helped Indiana win the title.
After that conclusion to his freshman year, all Coleman did was become the greatest Orangemen post player of all time, scoring 2,143 points (then a program record and still second-best) and pulling down a school-record 1,537 rebounds.
Coleman battled extraordinary expectations as the No. 1 overall pick, but despite the “bust” label that many fans hung on him, he was quite a good NBA power forward.
In his first four seasons in New Jersey, he averaged at least 18.4 points and 9.5 rebounds a night while making an All-Star appearance, and he posted career marks of 16.5 points and 9.3 boards a game over 15 pro seasons.
Only Sherman Douglas could make a 2,060-point career scoring output feel like an afterthought.
One of the greatest point guards the college game has ever seen, Douglas accumulated 235 steals—third-best in school history—and set a Division I record (since broken) with 960 assists.
The General went on to a distinguished NBA career, topping six assists a game in his first five full seasons (split between Miami and Boston).
Over a dozen years as a pro, he was frequently paired with college teammate Rony Seikaly, with whom he shared the floor in four different seasons with the Heat and Nets.
Even if Syracuse fans enjoyed only one season of Carmelo Anthony, they certainly got their money’s worth for that year.
Anthony became the benchmark for one-and-done freshmen by averaging 22.2 points and 10 rebounds a game while carrying Syracuse to the only national title in school history.
Coming off his fifth career All-Star appearance (and his first representing the Knicks), fans know pretty much what to expect from Melo at the NBA level.
As brilliant an offensive weapon as he’s been, though, 24.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a game have earned him exactly one trip past the first round of the playoffs in eight years.