Syracuse Basketball: The Top 50 Players in School History
With all the publicity Syracuse University’s basketball program has received in recent weeks, the private school from upstate New York is under a microscope. The allegations against recently fired assistant coach Bernie Fine are deeply troubling and hopefully justice is served swiftly and fairly for all involved.
The news surrounding Syracuse isn’t all bad, though. Syracuse is a Top Five team with national championship aspirations. Perhaps now is a good time to get reacquainted with some of the players who turned Syracuse into a basketball powerhouse.
Ranking Syracuse’s best players was no easy task to take. With over 100 years of history, Syracuse has had its share of dominating players and comparing eras is never wise, but with that in mind, I present the top 50 players in Syracuse history.
While this list is not scientific, it is well thought-out. I'm sure some of the rankings are questionable to some, but my true hope is that there were no omissions.
With that said, let the discussion begin.
50: Marty Headd
Marty Headd: 1978-81 Guard
Headd was a sharpshooter from the outside before the advent of the three-point shot. He scored over 1,000 points and was an All-Big East player two times.
His blue-collar work ethic made him a fan favorite. His bald head and sniper’s ability made him a nice sidekick to the Louie and Bouie show.
49: Marty Byrnes
Marty Byrnes: 1975-78 Forward
Byrnes was a clutch scorer and a powerful physical threat for the Orangemen. He was a good rebounder who led the team in scoring in 1978.
Byrnes was also one of the many cursed Orangemen at the charity stripe who is remembered for missing a game-tying free throw against Western Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Byrnes was a first-round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns.
Photo: Los Angeles Lakers
48: Donté Greene
Donté Greene: 2008 Forward
Greene could have been much higher on this list had he played more than one year, but that year was a special one for a freshman.
Greene led the Orange in scoring with 17.7 points per game and averaged 7.2 rebounds. While he took some flak for being 6’11” and not rebounding more, he was an outside shooter and was not in a position for as many offensive rebounds as a player of his size would be accustomed.
He broke Gerry McNamara’s freshman record for three-pointers made and also led the team in blocks.
While Greene would probably have been better served refining his immense talent for one more year in college, he elected to enter the NBA draft after just one year and was selected in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
47: Damone Brown
Damone Brown: 1998-01 Forward
Damone Brown was a jack of all trades for Jim Boeheim.
He was a good shooter who could run the point and was also a very good rebounder. Like so many Syracuse players before him, Brown developed each year of his duration until his senior year when he averaged almost 17 points and nine rebounds per game.
Brown was also a good defender who managed to stay out of foul trouble. He was also a 75 percent free-throw shooter for his career and earned All-Big East honors his senior year.
Brown was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
46: Dale Shackleford
Dale Shackleford: 1976-79 Forward/Guard
Shackleford was yet another utility player who could be inserted anywhere in the lineup and prosper.
As a freshman, under Roy Danforth, Shackleford put in time at the center, forward and guard spots. He was a fantastic rebounder for his size as well as an able defender who averaged over two steals per game his senior year.
Shackleford would go on to get drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but enjoyed a very successful career in Europe.
Photo: Hengel Golf Classic
45: Erich Santifer
Erich Santifer: 1980-83 Forward/Guard
Santifer was a professional scoring machine for Syracuse in the early '80s.
Santifer would graduate as the second-leading scorer of all-time at Syracuse behind Dave Bing, scoring over 1,800 points. While standing only 6’4”, Santifer averaged almost five rebounds per game, making him a perfect guard for the Boeheim system.
Santifer was a two-time All-Big East selection and a third-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons.
44: Todd Burgan
Todd Burgan: 1995-98 Forward/Guard
Todd Burgan was the classic form of the Syracuse slasher.
Burgan could shoot from the outside with ease or bang inside to get his two. At 6’7” he could rebound well and was also a great assist man, averaging 3.3 assists per game his senior year. Burgan was also a fantastic defender with a nose for stealing the ball.
With the departure of Lawrence Moten, Burgan filled in nicely to complement John Wallace with his inside/outside presence. Burgan was an invaluable part of Syracuse’s run to the Final Four in 1996.
Burgan earned All-Big East honors as a senior and went on to play in Europe and the CBA.
43: Demetris Nichols
Demerits Nichols: 2004-07 Forward
It took Demetris Nichols a few years to get started, but once he did, the much-hyped forward form Rhode Island lived up to his lofty expectations.
Nichols was a precision three-point shooter who could move inside and rebound when the need arose. He was a prolific enough shooter that he was invited to the annual three-point contest during March Madness, where he came in second place.
While he was a tad sloppy with the ball at times, he got his share of steals and was a dagger at the free-throw line. As a senior, Nichols was selected to the Big East First Team squad and was an honorable mention All-American.
He went on to be drafted in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers.
42: George Hicker
George Hicker: 1966-68 Forward
I could tell you how 6’3” Hicker was an all-around great player who was an honorable mention All-American. I could tell you that he was an excellent outside shooter and graduated fourth on the Syracuse all-time scoring list.
But that would overshadow this little tidbit…
George Hicker was a manager for Rick James and Iron Butterfly.
Photo: Cardinal Industrial
41: Rick Jackson
Rick Jackson: 2008-11 Forward/Center
Rick Jackson was another in the long line of Syracuse big men who spent each year in school improving his all-around skills.
From the fighting city of Philadelphia, Jackson was a role player early on, but the more his minutes increased, the more his work ethic and talent became evident.
His rise to power was culminated in 2011 when he led the insanely talented Big East in rebounding, shooting percentage and blocked shots. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, was an All-Big East Second Team selection and was also named an AP All-American honorable mention.
40: Arinze Onuaku
Arinze Onuaku 2006—10 Center
Arinze Onuaku will probably be remembered more for what he didn’t do, than what he accomplished. A leg injury suffered by him put him out of the Orange lineup at the end of the season and effectively dashed the hopes of a second Syracuse NCAA title.
Onuaku was as powerful a presence as Syracuse has had in the middle of its 2-3 zone, often scaring opponents from even attempting to get to the hoop as to not be embarrassed by this hulk of a student.
While he was injury prone during his duration at Syracuse and was also a liability at the free throw line, his minutes were formidable on the defensive end. Even with his physical play, in his entire college career, he only fouled out of a game 10 times combined. He was a good rebounder and was a sure thing to score once he set his mind on shooting. He graduated as Syracuse’s all-time leader in shooting percentage.
39: Jimmy Lee
Jimmy Lee: 1973-75 Guard
Jimmy Lee may be the most underrated player in Syracuse history.
At only 6’2”, Lee was a high school sensation from nearby Kirkwood, NY. He was a premier outside talent who helped lead Syracuse to its first Final Four appearance. Lee had a gym rat’s mentality and would grab a fair share of rebounds along with his knack for distributing the ball. He was also one of the best free-throw shooters in the country.
Lee’s crowning achievement would be his clutch, go-ahead shot in the final seconds against juggernaut North Carolina in the 1975 NCAA tournament. He would lead the team all the way to the Final Four, but lose to Kentucky to dash the Orangemen’s Cinderella run.
He was named to the All-Tournament team as well as the ECAC All-Star Team. He went on to be drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fifth round.
Photo: Syracuse Hall of Fame
38: Ed Goldberg
Eddie Goldberg: 1957-60 Guard
In a time when Syracuse running backs were household names, Ed Goldberg was making a name for himself as a prolific scorer for the Orangemen.
At only, 5’10”, the speedy product from the Garden State managed to sharp-shoot his way to scoring over 16 points a game for his career and even found time to grab almost three rebounds per game.
He was twice an All-American honorable mention performer, as both a sophomore and a senior.
37: Chuck Richards
Chuck Richards: 1964-65 Forward/Center
Overshadowed by the greatness of Dave Bing, Chuck Richards managed to put up some fantastic numbers in only two years of play at Syracuse.
Richards was an inside presence during his time in Syracuse and his shooter's touch around the basket made him almost unstoppable down low. He averaged over 18 points per game in his career to go with over nine rebounds and shot an insane 57.6 percent shooting percentage.
The West Point transfer was also a very good free-throw shooter, hitting 76 percent of his attempts.
Photo: Orange Hoops
36: Pete Chudy
Pete Chudy: 1959-61 Forward
Chudy was a 6’4” southpaw who could score in buckets and was a fantastic rebounder.
Without a true center on his teams, Chudy was made to take over the lead as both ball hawk and outside shooter. Even with his small size, he averaged over 20 points per game as a senior and an even eight rebounds.
Even with teams keying on Chudy as the team's only legitimate scorer, he averaged over 16 points a game for his career and managed to score over 1,000 points in only 67 career games.
Chudy was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals in the 10th round of the NBA draft.
Photo: Orange Hoops
35: Danny Schayes
Danny Schayes: 1978-81 Center
While Schayes only became a regular starter for the Orangemen in his senior year, he provided a much-needed break for the Louis and Bouie show and was perfect to fill in the role of a big man off the bench. This was a duty he would not shrug off either. Living up to the reputation of the No. 44 he wore, Schayes was a heady player who could rebound, shoot, block shots and shoot free throws.
His senior year was his coming of age when he put up 14.6 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and shot 82.2 percent from the charity stripe.
His game contained no flaws and he would become a first-team Big East honoree as well as an All-American.
Schayes was an NBA first-round pick of the Utah Jazz, going 13th. He would prove to be a valuable commodity, playing 18 years in basketball’s senior circuit.
34: Andy Rautins
Andy Rautins: 2006-10 Guard
Andy Rautins’ climb to Syracuse excellence was slow, but in every opportunity he was given to shine, Rautins bombed away and never looked back.
The son of Leo Rautins, Andy had a sniper’s stroke and was a fantastic ball-handler and defender. He lived in the shadows of Gerry McNamara and Eric Devendorf for his early years, but filled in off the bench fantastically.
A torn ACL would sideline him for a year, but would not stop him from becoming second on the Syracuse all-time list for three-pointers made (McNamara). His hard work and dedication to his craft translated to every aspect of his game and proved him to be an invaluable asset to the Orange. His numbers may not jump off the page, but his intangibles were dynamic.
Rautins was voted to the Big East Second Team, was an AP All-American honorable mention and a Sporting News fifth-team All-American.
He would become the New York Knicks’ second-round pick at No. 38.
33: Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson: 1989-92 Guard/Forward
Dave Johnson came into Syracuse a slab of marble, but went out as a sculpted masterpiece.
Johnson’s first two years at Syracuse were spent as the first man off the bench. His numbers were modest at best scoring 4.2 points per game as a freshman and 6.5 as a sophomore. It wasn’t known just how well Johnson would fit into the starter’s role as a junior. He was an erratic shooter and hadn’t been consistently proficient.
All doubts went away when Johnson, combined with Billy Owens to form one of the best one-two combinations in the country. Johnson outperformed his previous season by tripling his scoring average to an astounding 19.4 points per game to go with 6.3 rebounds and 38 percent from behind the arc to become the team’s best three-point threat.
Johnson’s senior year would pair him up with Lawrence Moten. Johnson managed to improve yet again with 19.8 points per game and seven rebounds, both team highs.
What’s most amazing is that if you look at the numbers Johnson put up as only being a starter for a little more than two years, the figures are astounding: 1,614 points, almost 600 rebounds, nearly 200 assists and 127 steals.
Johnson would be honored as a first-team and second-team All-Big East performer in his senior and junior years respectively.
Johnson became the first-round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 28.
32: Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim: 1964-66 Guard
And you thought Boeheim was just another pretty face.
Jim Boeheim was the American Dream at Syracuse. He was a gym rat who loved the game and was a walk-on for Roy Danforth’s squad.
He spent two seasons as a role player, but his determination and hard work earned him a scholarship as a senior and he played in the backcourt with his friend and roommate Dave Bing. Boeheim grabbed the bull by both horns and put up an impressive 14.6 points per game as a senior and shot an incredible 56.5 percent from the field.
He wasn’t the most impressive or gifted player to wear orange, but for a walk-on to become a starter and then one of the greatest coaches of all time, Jim Boeheim deserves to be on this list.
31: Etan Thomas
Etan Thomas: 1997-2000 Center
Etan Thomas was quite simply an awesome defensive center. His hard work on the block earned him a reputation as one of the most ferocious shot-blockers in the country.
Thomas doubled his point output from his freshman year to his sophomore year and blocked an incredible 138 shots. This earned him the Big East Most Improved Player Award and Big East Third Team honors.
His game would continue to improve earning him second- and first-team Big East honors in his junior and senior years respectively. He also claimed back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year Awards during that span.
As a senior, Thomas led the Orangemen in points, rebounds and blocks and finished his career with an amazing 424 blocked shots to go with 1,340 points and 847 rebounds. He was also claimed a 60 percent shooting percentage throughout his career.
Thomas went on to be drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 12th pick of the first round.
30: Dennis DuVal
Dennis DuVal: 1972-74 Guard
Dennis DuVal was an amazing scorer for the Orangemen in the early '70s who seemed to be part Dave Bing and part Harlem Globetrotter.
At only 6’2”, the guard from Westbury, NY was a good rebounder and a skilled passer, but his bread and butter was getting the ball in basket.
Combined with Greg Kohls as a sophomore, Syracuse had a formidable scoring backcourt. DuVal would improve himself each year in the scoring department from 15.8 points per game as a sophomore to 19.6 as a junior and then 20.6 as a senior.
DuVal led the Orangemen in scoring and assists his junior and senior years and also earned third-team All-American honors in his last year.
DuVal was drafted by both the Washington Bullets of the NBA and the Denver Nuggets of the ABA.
Photo: Dick Blume/The Post Standard
29: Adrian Autry
Adrian Autry: 1991-94 Guard
Adrian Autry was a four-year starter who was Mr. Everything for Syracuse. He could shoot, was an excellent passer and tall enough to fit into Jim Boeheim’s defense perfectly.
He was a well-rounded player who was an All-Big East Rookie selection, a Big East Third Team selection as a junior and a first-teamer as a senior. He’ll always be remembered for his heroic effort in the NCAA tournament.
On a side note, am I the only one who still can’t believe Autry wasn’t drafted? To this day it still bothers me.
Oh well, back to the list.
28: Eric Devendorf
Eric Devendorf: 2006-09 Guard
Devendorf was a fiery guard from the basketball factory of Oak Hill Academy.
During his tumultuous time at Syracuse, Devendorf managed to find time to score over 1,600 points, and that’s with only playing 10 games in his junior year.
There was never any doubt about his ability to score, but he was better passing the ball than he has been given credit for. He probably doesn’t deserve to be as high on the list as I have put him, but his near McNamarian effort in the Big East Tournament (six-OT UConn game, et al.) gave him a good bump.
Let's move on before I drop him.
27: Preston Shumpert
Preston Shumpert: 1999-2002 Guard/Forward
Preston Shumpert played at Syracuse during a transitional period for the program. Without a lot of guidance and leadership, Syracuse needed someone to emerge as a scoring leader and go-to guy on the floor. That became Shumpert.
But he had to ease into it. And just like his rebounding numbers, which gradually improved with each year, Shumpert became an electric scorer with an eye for the three. He became Syracuse’s all-time leader in threes made in a single season and a career.
He was the Big East most improved player as a junior and was voted first-team Big East in both his junior and senior seasons.
I’ve always thought of Shumpert as the poor man’s Lawrence Moten. I’d say that’s pretty high praise.
26: Vic Hanson
Vic Hanson: 1925-27 Forward
I never saw the legendary Vic Hanson play and his numbers are not translatable to today’s game, but he deserves high praise for the following…
He was a three-time All-American
He led Syracuse to a national championship in 1926.
He was the National Player of the Year in 1926.
He graduated as Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer.
That’s got to be good for something.
Photo: Orange Hoops
25: Jason Hart
Jason Hart: 1997-2000 Guard
Jason Hart was another four-year starter with an uncanny defensive ability and a quick first step.
While Hart was never a prolific scorer, his defensive abilities were outstanding. Hart put the “guard” back into the guard position.
Hart was a Big East All-Rookie selection, a Big East Third Team selection as a junior and a first-teamer as a senior.
He would graduate as the Syracuse all-time leader in career steals and was second only to Sherman Douglas in career assists.
Hart would go on to be a second-round draft choice of the Milwaukee Bucks with the 49th pick.
24: Billy Gabor
Billy Gabor: 1943-1948 Guard/Forward
Billy Gabor was a fantastic scorer for Syracuse during his time which started in 1942 and ended in 1948 as an All-American.
A long time to be in school, you say?
Billy Gabor left school in 1943 to fight in World War II as a bombardier.
He deserves kudos for just that, but when he came back he became the all-time leading scorer in Orangemen history, a record that would stand until Dave Bing would tear it down.
Gabor would go on to be drafted by the Syracuse Nationals where he would eventually win an NBA title.
Photo: The Post Standard
23: Joe Schwarzer
Joe Schwarzer: 1916-1918 Center
For a center, Joe Schwarzer could move the ball around like a point guard and killed at the free-throw line. He was also a tad undersized for a center at 5’11”.
Nevertheless, Schwarzer was honored as an All-American twice and led Syracuse to a national championship his junior year.
In comparison to his peers, Schwarzer deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
Photo: Orange Hoops
22: Rafael Addison
Rafael Addison: 1983-86 Guard/Forward
Another great product from New Jersey, Rafael Addison was everything you think of when you mention the all-time Syracuse greats.
He was a tremendous scorer, had a great ball-handling ability for a big man, was a good rebounder, could defend very well and as a bonus, he could shoot free throws. Addison tends to be forgotten in the shadow of Pearl Washington, but it was Addison who fell just seven points shy of Dave Bing’s Syracuse scoring record. Had Addison not shifted to the off-guard position, making him less of a target of Pearl’s passes, Bing’s record would likely have been shattered.
Addison was an impact player starting his freshman year and starting with his sophomore year, he was voted second team, then first team, then second team again through his college years as a Big East All-Star in a star-studded conference.
Addison was a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns.
21: Louis Orr
Louie Orr: 1977-80 Forward
A lanky swingman with uncanny ability, Louie Orr was one half of the famed Bouie and Louie Show.
Orr was an excellent shooter and rebounder and his basketball acumen helped Syracuse amass a 100-18 record during his time there. His dynamic play helped Syracuse win the inaugural Big East regular-season championship with Orr taking home first-team All-Big East honors in the inception of the awards.
Orr was honored as an All-American his senior year and was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA draft at No. 28.
20: Greg Kohls
Greg Kohls: 1970-72 Guard
Kid Kohls was buried on the bench as a sophomore scoring only 38 points in 17 games. He scored over 20 points per game on the freshman team, so the talent was there—all he would need is the opportunity.
He grabbed that opportunity his junior season with an explosive 22.1 points per game. Kohls could score from anywhere on the court, was an excellent free-throw shooter, a great ball-handler and even grabbed his own share of rebounds at only 6’1”.
Kohls followed up his junior campaign with the second-best scoring output in a season in Syracuse history with 26.7 points per game and also contributed four assists per game. In just two years, Kohls managed to score 1,360 points, making him the school’s third all-time leading scorer for a career.
Kohl’s was picked in the seventh round of the NBA draft by the Buffalo Braves.
Photo: Orange Hoops
19: Leo Rautins
Leo Rautins: 1981-83 Forward
Rautins was one of the all-time greats at Syracuse with superior skills at ball-handling, scoring, passing and rebounding. Had he not played in the Big East at a time when the conference was full of Hall of Famers, Rautins would have been even higher.
A few memorable distinctions in Rautins’ career were his tip-in to beat Villanova in triple-overtime to win the Big East Tournament and the fact that he not only had the first triple-double in Big East history, but managed to be the only player in the conference to ever get two triple-doubles.
In a stacked Big East, Rautins managed only a third-team Big East mention, but was also honored as an honorable mention All-American.
He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76’ers with the 17th pick.
18: Wes Johnson
Wesley Johnson: 2010 Forward
Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson had something special about his game. During his time in the Big Ten, Johnson was putting up decent numbers, but there was a much higher level of play in him, which was predicted by Jim Boeheim after his transfer.
As with any time, it was wrong to doubt Boeheim when it came to assessing players. Johnson exploded onto the Big East and had just as memorable a season as any player Syracuse has schooled. While his numbers don’t jump of the page with 16.5 points per game to go with 8.5 rebounds, his contribution was tremendous. Johnson seemed to always have a feel for the moment and whenever Syracuse needed a basket or a defensive stop or just to have someone put the team on his back, Johnson was there to oblige.
Johnson’s heralded play earned him the Big East Player of the Year Award as well as first-team honors. He was also voted to two All-American teams as a first-teamer, The AP and the USBWA.
Johnson was the fourth overall pick of the NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves after deciding to go pro after his junior season.
17: Vinnie Cohen
Vinnie Cohen: 1955-57 Forward
Vinnie Cohen was an incredible scoring talent who guided Syracuse to its first-ever NCAA tournament.
At only 6’1”, Cohen could jump through the roof and led the Orangemen in scoring in each of his three varsity seasons. He was also a great rebounder, averaging seven rebounds a game his senior season. For his career he averaged almost 20 points per game.
Cohen’s Orangemen would make it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to No. 1 North Carolina.
Cohen graduated as the second-leading scorer of all time at Syracuse and was selected as an All-American.
He was drafted to the NBA’s Syracuse Nationals, but decided a career in law would suit him better.
16: Rudy Hackett/Jon Cincebox
Rudy Hackett: 1973-75 Forward
Hackett was an all-around talent who helped lead Syracuse to three consecutive NCAA berths in the '70s and more importantly, its first Final Four.
He was a ferocious rebounder and a prolific scorer. He was also an excellent passer.
Hackett graduated as Syracuse’s second all-time rebounder (behind Big Jon Cincebox, who I just realized I left off this top 50 list. He belongs here. See more below) and second all-time scorer behind Dave Bing.
He was selected to the AP All-American Second Team and was drafted in the third round of the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.
I’ll try to save myself by inserting Jon Cincebox here.
Cincebox, who played from 1957-59, was one of the best centers in school history. As a senior, Cincebox averaged 19 points and 16 rebounds a game. It wasn’t until Derrick Coleman came along that his career rebounding numbers would be eclipsed.
He was a third-round draft pick of the Syracuse Nationals.
15: Jonny Flynn
Jonny Flynn: 2008-09 Guard
Johnny Flynn was an indefatigable Energizer Bunny who had an immense ability to create his own shot, cut the lane and put his teammates in the perfect position to score.
In Flynn’s first game, he broke Carmelo Anthony’s single-game scoring mark for freshmen with 28 points. For his two years at the ‘Cuse, Flynn would take Orange fans on a thrill ride of which they couldn’t get enough.
Flynn started out as a co-Big East Rookie of the Year and made All-Big East honorable mention honors. As a sophomore, Flynn improved every aspect of his game and managed to put up 17.4 points per game to go with an amazing 6.7 assists.
Flynn will always be remembered by the Orange faithful, and basketball fans alike, for his heroics in the Big East Tournament, more specifically, his 67-minute marathon performance in the six-overtime victory over No. 4 UConn. Syracuse would eventually lose to Louisville in the final, but Flynn was impressive enough to earn the tournament MVP.
At the end of his sophomore year, Flynn played more minutes in one season than any other Orange player in history. He would be honored as an All-Big East second-teamer.
Flynn declared early for the NBA draft, leaving Orange fans to wonder what could have been, and was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
14: Stevie Thompson
Stephen Thompson: 1987-90 Guard/Forward
Stevie Thompson, the high-flier from South Central Los Angeles, never led Syracuse in any one thing, but he excelled at almost everything.
Despite sharing the court with the likes of Sherman Douglas and Derrick Coleman, Thompson managed to become the fourth-highest scorer in Syracuse history, falling just 44 points short of 2,000 career points and amassed over 600 rebounds and almost 200 steals.
Whether performing as the sixth man as a freshman for the ’87 Final Four team or as a perfect complementary player to any player he stepped on the court with, Stevie Thompson was an invaluable player and a Syracuse legend.
His weaknesses were his free-throw shooting and his perimeter game, but his amazing 56 percent shooting percentage made up for the deficiency. He played much taller than his listed 6’4”, and was feared when he got close to the lane.
Thompson’s junior and senior years would bring him two Al- Big East Second Team awards and two All-American honorable mentions.
13: Hakim Warrick
Hakim Warrick: 2002-05 Forward
If there was ever a perfect image of the Syracuse weapon, the mold was cast from Hakim Warrick.
From his solid contribution as a freshman, to his breakout sophomore season, to his “Block heard ‘round Syracuse," Hakim Warrick represented every aspect that is good about Syracuse basketball.
A powerful dunker, Warrick improved his game with each of the four years he was on the roster. He earned the Big East Most Improved Player Award after his sophomore campaign, but that was minor compared to what would be in store for him in early April 2003, when Syracuse ran through the NCAA tournament. Warrick’s block of Kansas’ Mike Lee’s shot cemented the first NCAA tournament championship for Syracuse and Jim Boeheim.
While nothing would compare to that miracle season, Warrick still turned out one of the most successful statistical careers in Orange history. He finished his career with over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and was a fierce defender.
His sophomore season he was a Big East Third Team selection and followed that with two first-team selections. He was an All-American his senior year as well as the Big East Player of the Year and the Big East Tournament MVP.
Warrick would get drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 19th pick of the first round of the NBA draft.
12: Roosevelt Bouie
Roosevelt Bouie: 1976-80 Center
The other member of the Bouie and Louie Show was a 6’11” court-running center named Roosevelt Bouie. Combined with Louis Orr, the four-year run of the Bouie and Louie Show compiled a record of 100-18.
Bouie played like the prototypical slashing forward Syracuse fans have been accustomed to, except he was their center. His presence was an instant success with a freshman campaign that included 91 blocked shots. His inaugural season also garnered him freshman second-team All-American honors.
Bouie continued to dominate the paint throughout his Syracuse career. As a senior he was voted to the Big East First Team in its first year as a conference and also was an All-American.
He graduated the all-time Syracuse leader in blocked shots and shooting percentage, was second on the career scoring list and third on the career rebounding list.
Bouie was drafted early in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks, but elected to go play in Italy, where he enjoyed a very successful career.
11: Rony Seikaly
Rony Seikaly: 1985-88 Center
Like Roosevelt Bouie before him, Rony Seikaly patrolled the paint in Syracuse with a vicious tenacity.
His career didn’t take off as fast as Bouie’s, but when it did, Syracuse had one of the best centers in the country and a perfect complement to the talented play of Howard Trische, Sherman Douglas and Derrick Coleman.
Seikaly was a dominant part of the 1987 Final Four team and as a senior, he was the team’s leading scorer, helping guide them to a Big East championship. That season he was voted to the All-Big East Second Team as well as the All-American Second Team.
Seikaly went on to become the first-ever draft pick of the Miami Heat.
Seikaly would also become one of only nine Syracuse players to have his uniform retired.
10: Bill Smith
Bill Smith: 1969-71 Center
Bill Smith was an enigmatic figure for Syracuse. He was a fantastic rebounder and scorer.
His scoring and rebounding numbers are as follows from his sophomore year on: 19.0 PPG, 11.6 RPG; 20.2 PPG, 12.4 RPG; 22.7 PPG, 14.5 RPG.
…And he was still considered an underachiever. He had a reputation for letting his temper get the best of him, which held him back from being higher on this list.
Some great insight into Bill Smith can be found in Tales from the Syracuse Hardwood by Bud Poliquin, which contains an amusing story of a drinking contest between Smith and Bernie Fine.
Smith graduated as the No. 2 all-time scorer and rebounder for Syracuse. He was drafted by both the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the ABA’s Pittsburgh Pipers.
9: Gerry McNamara
Gerry McNamara: 2003-06 Guard
Before The Office burst on the scene, Scranton, Pennsylvania already had a favorite son—Gerry McNamara.
McNamara was a deadly a shooter as anyone who has ever laced up his shoes for the Orange and could single-handedly take over any game he was in from his freshman year all the way through his senior year. McNamara, Billy Edelin and Carmelo Anthony formed the most formidable freshman class in America. The trio, with the help of Kueth Duany, Hakim Warrick and others, stormed through the NCAA tournament and brought home gold for the first time in Syracuse history.
There are too many GMac stories to write here, but a few of the most memorable:
His six three-pointers against Kansas in the first half of the national final.
His one-eyed shooting clinic against Rutgers and Quincy Douby.
His nine three-pointers against BYU in the NCAA tourney.
His Big East Tournament for the ages in which McNamara changed his image from overrated to MSG landlord.
His stats, records and awards are all well and good, but Gerry McNamara’s leadership was what set him apart from the pack.
8: John Wallace
John Wallace: 1993-96 Forward
John Wallace was just a wonderful player with a dramatic sense for the moment. He was an excellent scorer and rebounder and had no visible weaknesses other than his slightly higher-than-average turnover numbers.
Wallace started every game of his four years at Syracuse and turned his play into a finely tuned machine. Wallace was a good enough scorer and rebounder to earn himself All-Big East Rookie honors. His drive to improve paid off and each aspect of his game improved. He ended his sophomore year with All-Big East Second Team honors.
Wallace’s junior year was when his skills rose to star level, of course earning him Big East First Team honors, but the Orange faithful feared the NBA was calling to take Wallace away.
Wallace stayed on for a mighty senior year which culminated into one of the great postseason runs in tournament history.
Wallace put the Orangemen on his back and rode them all the way to the finals against Kentucky where they were a little too overmatched by the Wildcats’ star power. Syracuse and Wallace kept the game close but in the end it wasn’t meant to be. The lasting image of Wallace will always be his dribble-drive three-pointer to beat Georgia in overtime in the third round of the tournament.
His senior year put him on the second-team All America and first-team Big East.
Wallace would graduate one of the rare 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound player in school history, placing third all-time in both categories for Syracuse.
Wallace was a first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks at No. 18.
7: Lawrence Moten
Lawrence Moten: 1992-95 Guard/Forward
If there ever was a player who could be called silky smooth, it was Lawrence Moten.
Moten was a special talent who had a nose for the basket and ate Big East defenses for lunch nightly.
Nicknamed Poetry in Moten, Lawrence was not the most gifted three-point shooter, nor did he have the physical prowess to dominate a game. What he had was unbelievable court sense and sight and could dissect his opponents with surgical precision.
Big East honors and the like would be bestowed upon him, but his greatest accomplishment, which still stands is that of all the Hall of Famers and insane talent who have come through the Big East, Lawrence Moten stands alone atop the conference’s all-time scoring list.
Despite this, Moten slipped to the second round of the NBA draft and was selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies.
6: Billy Owens
Billy Owens: 1989-91 Guard/Forward
Before arriving at Syracuse, Billy Owens was already one of the most highly sought-after high schoolers in America. He would make an immediate impact for the Orange and ease the pain of the departure of Derrick Coleman.
Owens was an all-around fantastic player. He had great size, could handle the ball, shot well inside and out, and loved to rebound. He was no slouch at passing the either, averaging almost four assists a game for his career.
The only thing holding back Owens from being higher on this list was his lack of postseason success, which included one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history, his two-seeded Orange losing to the No. 15 seed, Richmond.
Owens was twice a Big East first-teamer, and added a Big East Player of the Year and first-team All-American honors to his trophy case as a junior.
In just three years, Owens collected 1,840 points, 910 rebounds and 381 assists. All lofty numbers for any college player.
Owens left after his junior year to be selected third by the Sacramento Kings.
5: Pearl Washington
Dwayne Washington: 1984-86 Guard
Pearl Washington was the Syracuse answer to the Showtime Lakers.
Never before or since has there been as exciting player to watch on the court for Syracuse. He could handle the ball like a Harlem Globetrotter, with the skills he developed as a schoolyard legend in New York and could dish the ball better than any player in America.
He was a Big East first-teamer in each of his three years in college, and finished with a first-team All-American Award.
He left early for the Washington Bullets after his junior year. One can only imagine if he stayed on for the run Syracuse would have the next year in the NCAA tournament.
I leave his stats out because they don’t really matter. They were awesome, but irrelevant. Pearl Washington’s style of play is what brought in the fans. He was enigmatic with the basketball and they just don’t make ‘em like Pearl anymore.
Photo: Bounce Mag
4: Sherman Douglas
Sherman Douglas: 1986-89 Guard
They don’t make ‘em like Pearl anymore, but they also don’t make ‘em like The General.
Sherman Douglas was an NBA point guard playing against boys.
Douglas’ signature alley-oop passes were things of beauty and none could match his court vision.
Douglas symbolizes a time when Syracuse basketball was at its finest. He ran the point like a surgeon, while Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Stevie Thompson provided fast-breaking, fast-paced action.
Douglas’ years were memorable, yet heartbreaking if you include the Indiana loss.
Douglas graduated as not only the Syracuse all-time leading scorer, but the NCAA’s all-time leading assist man.
His astonishing career numbers: 2,060 points, 960 assists, 235 steals and 310 rebounds.
Douglas was a second-round pick of the Miami Heat, going No. 28.
3: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony: 2003 Forward
In just one year, Carmelo Anthony gave Syracuse fans the championship they’d been craving their entire lives.
Carmelo broke in like gangbusters and never looked back. His all-around game made him unstoppable on the court and his veteran-like leadership, combined with Gerry McNamara’s shooting and a group of perfect role players, brought the nets down against a stacked Kansas Jayhawks team in the national final.
Many before him tried, but Carmelo succeeded.
While there’s more to his story, nothing else needs to be factored into this ranking. Carmelo was the fish that saved Syracuse (ask your father).
2: Derrick Coleman
Derrick Coleman: 1987-1990 Forward
Derrick Coleman could do everything on the court, and I mean everything. From being a rebounder with a receiver’s concentration to being a scorer who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, Coleman was the prototypical forward of Syracuse lore. He could block shots, and shoot from the outside, but also had a wonderful touch on his passes.
His freshman year provided a most-humbling experience, with Coleman missing the front end of a one-and-one to put Indiana away in the national championship game, but he survived the incident to become one of the great players in college history.
Coleman was a first-team Big East player from his sophomore to his senior year. That last year he was also a consensus All-American and National Player of the Year.
Most impressive about Coleman’s numbers is the record that still stands. Coleman is the only player in college history to amass over 2,000 points, 1,500 rebounds and 300 blocks.
He would become Syracuse’s first-ever No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, going to the New Jersey Nets.
1: Dave Bing
Dave Bing: 1964-1966 Guard
Dave Bing was, quite simply, the perfect basketball player. He averaged almost 25 points per game for his career because he could score from anywhere. He averaged almost 10 rebounds per game for his career at only 6’3” because his feet where made out of springs and had someone kept track of assists then, he would have led the world in that stat too.
Bing would be the second pick in the NBA draft going to the Detroit Pistons and is the only Syracuse player in the NBA Hall of Fame.
According to Jim Boeheim, and I’m paraphrasing, Dave Bing is the best and most important player to ever play at Syracuse.
That’s good enough for me.