Everyone, it's okay, we're going to be fine. Syracuse will be playing basketball next season, trust me.
Obviously we had big expectations for this team next season. We were returning everyone except for Kristof Ongenaet(who will surely be missed), everyone thought we were a Top-5 Preseason team, a chorus of angels began singing whenever Jonny Flynn walked into a room, it was great.
However, all things must pass, and we have to live with it.
Jonny Flynn gave us two great years. With him at the helm, we won twenty games after losing half of our team to injuries last season. This year, we made it through what probably was the best conference of all time, through a six overtime donnybrook (excuse me, my Poliquin was showing a bit there), all the way to the Big East championship, and then to the Sweet Sixteen.
We had some good times, it was fun. However, we are all well aware that great basketball players rarely stick around. For every 2006-07 Florida, there is 2007-08 Kansas.
Now do I think Jonny's choice is the correct one? Not really, no. I think he could definitely improve his draft stock with another year of college—his jumper leaves something to be desired, and I'd love to see his decision making on the court gain some consistency—but I understand.
The economy is rough. Rumbles of a future NBA lockout float around. The risk that time presents may outweigh the rewards of a few possible extra million. There is no guarantee that his stock would rise as much as we think. There is no guarantee that we would make that Final Four run that the basketball pundits had us salivating over, we just knew that the chance was out there.
It is obvious the Lebron James factor had something to do with Jonny's quick trigger on hiring Leon Rose as his agent...and I don't like it one bit.
Now maybe Lebron is being completely honest in his insinuations, maybe Knick-Cuse fans' dreams everywhere will come true and New York will draft Jonny in the lottery and Lebron joins him and completes this happy family and they win a dozen championships and fix Wall Street and cure cancer.
I don't buy it though.
I think that Jonny will get drafted wherever the NBA dictates his value to be. Lebron has no effect on who drafts Jonny unless he falls all the way to where Cleveland ends up, and if this happens, then Jonny's in trouble.
He'll probably go somewhere between the end of the lottery and the twentieth pick, and Lebron will sign his next contract with whomever it is that offers him the most money. Besides, doesn't he already have an all-star Point Guard in Mo Williams?
Lebron's agency, LRMR, just needs marketable athletes, and Jonny is definitely that. Especially after the show he put on in the Garden against UConn. You've got to give him credit, he's a shrewd businessman, but I don't like professional athletes calling amateurs, it doesn't sit well with me. I just hope Lebron can at least hook Jonny up with some endorsements at the very least.
But as for Jonny, I wish him the best of luck. I will be rooting hard for him, much like I root hard for Carmelo Anthony, and Hakeem Warrick, and all of the other NBA Orange. The anti-Jonny contingency that has been growing is frankly ridiculous, much like the anti-Donte Greene one (I'm looking at you, students who booed Donte at the Dome this year).
I can't blame someone for leaving early to make money to help his family. We all go to college to better ourselves for the future, and obviously Jonny, and Donte before him, felt like it was the appropriate time to take that step in their personal situations.
They and their loved ones should be the only judges of that. It can only help our program if they succeed (look at the Melo Center which is being put up solely on the back of Carmelo's success in Denver, another "one-and-done" player for us), so let's support them in their decisions, not go on their Facebooks and insult them.
As for the other two departees (or probable departees, keep hope alive!):
Eric Devendorf is graduating this year. I can't blame him if he leaves. He's probably put up with more in four years on the Hill than anyone. He tore his ACL. He had to go through the whole situation in the winter.
He's been (warranted or not) branded as the "most hated" player in the Big East by a number of people. It's been rough for 'Devo'. Plus, he has a daughter now. I expect him to take his degree and go overseas (I'm sure he knows that he probably won't be drafted), and make some good money playing the sport he loves, without all of the scrutiny he's faced over here.
I am not convinced that Paul Harris is even sure of what he's doing (though you can say that often about Paul). He came to Syracuse after missing a chance of going High School to NBA by a year, and touted as a Player of the Year candidate as an entering Freshman.
He was supposed to be Melo reincarnate. He never blossomed into the player we thought he would, but Paul was a very good player for us for 3 years. While he had a seemingly contentious relationship with Jimmy, he always played his role on the team, and had some big games.
I think he has a chance to get drafted on talent and athleticism alone, but if he does come back and could improve his jumper and his decision making, he'll have an even better shot.
No matter what the last two decide, the same thing applies—as 'Cuse fans, we should be rooting for all of our own. A major discussion that has come about in all of this craziness is "what do college athletes owe their fanbase?" As long as they play hard and respect the University during their time on the hill, we can't complain about their tenures.
I don't think that's even a question with these three.
It's been a fun few years, but Orange basketball will reload. We have Andy, Arinze, Rick, and Wes. Let the good times roll.
Everyone, go to the Dome tomorrow at 7 pm and support our amazing Orange lacrosse team against Albany, and more importantly, I expect to see everyone at the Dome at 1 pm for the Spring Football team. A new era is beginning, and the players and coaching staff need our support. The power of Doug Marrone compels you!