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Syracuse Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Orange Players from the 1990s

Justin NeumanContributor IIDecember 19, 2013

Syracuse Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Orange Players from the 1990s

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    Over the years, the Syracuse basketball team has had a lot of excellent players. In the past 10 years alone, Jim Boeheim has produced NBA lottery picks such as Michael Carter-Williams, Dion Waiters, Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn and Carmelo Anthony.

    But Boeheim was coaching studs long before 'Melo came and helped the Orange cut down the nets in 2003. Some of the best players in the school's storied history played in the 1990s.

    You remember the '90s. It was a time when Zubaz were fashionable, and instead of people saying "teach me how to Dougie," they were saying "teach me how to Carlton."

    So in the spirit of throwing it back, let's take a look at the five best Syracuse players from the 1990s. We'll rank the players based on statistical output, awards earned and success in the NCAA tournament.

    *All stats and award information courtesy of orangehoops.org unless otherwise noted.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Coleman (1986-90)

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    Derrick Coleman (no relation to DaJuan) only gets an honorable mention nod since he played for Syracuse for about an hour in the 1990s.

    DC graduated in 1990 and became the first overall pick in the NBA draft that year.

    As a freshman, Coleman was the Big East Rookie of the Year and helped lead the team to the championship game of the NCAA tournament. However, his missed free throw in the waning seconds of the game left the door open for Keith Smart to hit the title-winning shot.

    For his career in orange, Coleman averaged 15 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Besides his freshman year, Coleman averaged a double-double each year on campus. He's the all-time leading rebounder for the Orange and second in scoring. He was named the Big East Player of the Year his senior year and was also a first-team All-American.

5: Etan Thomas (1996-00)

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    One of the most imposing defensive players to anchor the 2-3 zone, Etan Thomas comes in ranked at No. 5.

    Thomas blocked 424 shots (the most in school history) over his four-year career at Syracuse and turned swatting shots into an art form. In his time in college, Thomas averaged 11 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and was a career 60 percent shooter.

    As far as accolades go, Thomas had plenty. He was named the Most Improved Player of the Big East in his sophomore season and was the conference Defensive Player of the Year for his junior and senior seasons. He was third-team All-Big East his sophomore year, second-team as a junior and first-team as a senior.

     

4: Jason Hart (1996-00)

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    Arriving on campus the same year as Thomas, Jason Hart was a four-year starter at point guard for the Orange.

    Hart averaged 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game for his career. He was named to the Big East's All-Rookie Team, was third-team All-Big East as a junior and a first-teamer as a senior. The deepest tourney run Hart and Thomas managed to make was to the Sweet 16, so that, among other things, keeps them from being higher on the list.

    Hart is still one of the all-time greats for the Orange, though. He is second only to Sherman Douglas in school history in assists (709), and Hart leads the program in steals (329).

3: Billy Owens (1988-91)

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    Billy Owens is the first player on our list not to play all four years in college. Owens made the jump to the NBA after his junior season and was the third overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft.

    For his career, Owens averaged 17.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He dropped 23.2 points a game in his junior year, which made him the first player under Boeheim to average at least 20 a night.

    As far as tournament success goes, Owens' Syracuse teams were memorable, but only for reasons that make 'Cuse fans want to pull out their hair. The No. 2-seeded Orange were upset by the Richmond Spiders, a No. 15 seed, in the 1991 tournament. That would mark the first time a No. 2 seed would fall to a No. 15 seed in tournament history.

    Despite the lack of a deep tournament run, Owens' individual accolades keep him high on the list. He was a career 50.5 percent shooter and was first-team All-Big East his sophomore and junior seasons. During that outstanding junior year, Owens was also a first-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year.

2: John Wallace (1992-96)

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    Syracuse's tournament success with John Wallace in the fold is what gets Wallace the No. 2 spot over Owens. During his senior season (1995-96), Wallace led the Orange to the championship of the NCAA tournament before Kentucky ended Syracuse's ride.

    Wallace hit the game-winning shot in the Sweet 16 of that tournament while hanging 30 points and 15 rebounds. He also put up 29 and 10 in the title game before fouling out late. 

    Wallace's career numbers are nothing to sneeze at either. He averaged 16.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He averaged 22.2 points a night his senior year and also shot an astounding 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.

    Wallace earned second-team All-Big East honors during his sophomore year and made the first team in his junior and senior seasons. By the time Wallace got his degree, he would wind up third in program history in scoring and rebounding.

     

1: Lawrence Moten (1991-95)

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    As the program's all-time leading scorer, Lawrence Moten gets the No. 1 spot as Syracuse's best player from the '90s.

    Moten even led the entire Big East in scoring for a time until Boston College's Troy Bell and Notre Dame's Luke Harangody surged past him.

    Moten was the Big East Rookie of the Year and third-team All-Big East as a freshman and then made the Big East's first team during his other three years at school. He averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 rebounds during his time on the SU hill.

    Like others on this list, Moten found only middling tournament success, with his deepest run being to the Sweet 16 in 1994. But his scoring prowess (six career 30-point games) and presence at the top of the school's scoring list cement him at the top of the 1990s mountain.

     

    Did we leave someone off? Or perhaps rank someone higher than you think he deserves? Let your voice be heard by sounding off in the comments below.

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