Syracuse Basketball: 6 Greatest Senior Seasons in Orange History
Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph finished their Syracuse careers with strong showings last season, but they were a far cry from ranking with the best seniors in Orange history. Despite the program’s reputation for relying on youngsters such as Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse seniors have turned in some spectacular campaigns of their own.
One Orangeman who closed his college career by peaking at just the right time was forward John Wallace. Wallace’s high-scoring leadership sparked one of Syracuse’s best-ever NCAA Tournament runs, one that carried the team all the way to the national championship game.
Read on for more on Wallace's final campaign and the rest of the half-dozen best senior performances Syracuse has ever seen.
6. Etan Thomas (1999-00)
Though he never could score enough to be worth mentioning, Etan Thomas found plenty of other ways to make an impact in his senior season. The 6’9”, 256-pound bruiser grabbed a career-best 9.3 rebounds a game, but even that was just the warm-up act.
Thomas blocked an extraordinary 3.7 shots per contest, a higher rejection rate than any other Syracuse player has ever posted.
Of course, for Thomas it was actually a downturn, the third-best shot-blocking season of his career after amassing a school-record 4.0 blocks a night as a junior.
5. John Wallace (1995-96)
When it comes to performing in the clutch, you won’t find a better Syracuse senior than John Wallace.
The 6’8” PF led the Orangemen on a thrilling run to the national title game, highlighted by a 30-point effort in an 83-81 win over Georgia and 21 more in the national semis against Erick Dampier and Mississippi State.
For the season, Wallace averaged 22.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a night. He played brilliantly in the championship game as well, racking up 29 points and 10 boards, but couldn’t overcome Rick Pitino’s loaded Kentucky squad.
4. Jon Cincebox (1958-59)
The only reason Jon Cincebox didn’t set the Orangemen’s single-season rebounding record as a senior was that he’d already done so as a junior. Still, his 15.9 boards a night in his final college season are the second-best mark in school history.
Cincebox’s strong finish left him with 1,004 career rebounds, a figure no other Syracuse player would reach for three decades. The 6'7" center was also a terrific scorer, averaging 19 points a night.
3. Rudy Hackett (1974-75)
Heading into Rudy Hackett’s senior season, Syracuse had never made it past the Elite Eight (and had made just four NCAA Tournament appearances in its history).
The 6’9” Hackett proceeded to lead the Orangemen to their first-ever Final Four (with not a little help from classmate Jim Lee).
Hackett was as dominant a power forward as Syracuse could’ve asked for, averaging 22.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per game.
Even for a big man, he turned in an extraordinary shooting performance as well, draining 58.1 percent of his attempts from the field.
2. Dave Bing (1965-66)
The 1965-66 Orangemen posted the school’s best record in two decades, and Dave Bing was the key reason why. The greatest pure scorer in Syracuse history, Bing set the school’s single-season record with 28.4 points per game.
At 6’3”, Bing was also the team’s top rebounder with 10.8 boards a night. After leading his team to a 21-5 regular season, though, he was handcuffed by foul trouble and held to a mere 10 points in an Elite Eight loss to Jack Marin’s Duke Blue Devils.
1. Sherman Douglas (1988-89)
Sherman Douglas could hardly have found a more fitting way to cap the best four-year career in Syracuse history.
He racked up career highs of 18.2 points and 8.6 assists a game—the latter a school record—while leading the Orangemen to a 30-win season and an Elite Eight berth.
Thanks to that strong finish, Douglas graduated with the NCAA career record for assists (960).
Despite lighting up Nick Anderson and Illinois for 15 points and eight assists, though, Douglas couldn’t quite get Syracuse back to the Final Four for the second time in his career.