Former standout Syracuse basketball player Dwayne Washington has died after being diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer. He was 52.
Syracuse's official athletics site confirmed the news through his family Wednesday. Washington, who was affectionately nicknamed Pearl, starred with the Orange starting in 1983 before becoming a first-round pick of the New Jersey Nets in 1986.
The announcement included comments that longtime Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim made in January about the former guard's impact: "There is no better guy, and there's nobody who has meant more to our basketball program than [Washington]."
Brent Axe of ESPN Radio Syracuse agreed with that assessment:
"Pearl was one of the great phenoms of my era," former NBA and Georgetown star Patrick Ewing said, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. "To me, he's one of the great college athletes of all time."
Washington rose to stardom during his time at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York. An electric offensive player with a vast array of moves, he wasn't afraid to put his dynamic talent on display and left a lot of defenders at a loss in the process.
"Superman" and "rock star" were two phrases friend and former 'Cuse teammate Rafael Addison used to describe him to Bud Poliquin of Syracuse.com last September.
The point guard averaged 15.7 points across 95 career games with the Orange. He still ranks fourth in program history in assists with 631 and fifth in steals with 220.
He also provided members of the Syracuse fanbase with a moment they will never forget with his half-court buzzer-beater against Boston College in 1984:
Rich Cimini of ESPN provided an interesting tidbit about that memorable moment:
Washington spent three seasons in the NBA, two with the Nets and one with the Miami Heat. He went on to spend some time in the Continental Basketball Association as well.
But the peak of his basketball career came during his time at Syracuse. He helped numerous moves, the shake-and-bake and the crossover among them, go mainstream and certainly raised the level of the Orange program along the way.