Michael Gbinije on list of elite Syracuse transfers

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Gbinije has been one of SU’s best transfers

For most Orange fans, the words “Syracuse” and ”transfer” conjure up a long list of players who felt that Home Sweet Home was no longer under the Carrier Dome. Matt Roe, Earl Duncan, Richard Manning, Anthony Harris, Glenn Sekunda, Bobby Lazor, Ramel Lloyd, and Tony Bland comprise a list of players who all set off in search of greener pastures.

But every so often over the course of Jim Boeheim’s tenure, a player who’s been a difference maker has transferred to Syracuse. The most recent is senior Michael Gbinije. He found his way to upstate NY after spending his freshman season at current league foe Duke. And while the G in his last name might be silent, his game has been making noise all season. He had the final say against his old team with 14 points and nine assists in a win at Cameron earlier this year. But he saved his best for his Dome finale this past Saturday; a career-high 34-point eruption in a win over North Carolina State.

Here’s a look at some other notable transfers (not counting Junior College players… sorry, Michael Lloyd and Jason Cipolla) who chose to don orange after initially playing elsewhere.

Leo Rautins

After one year at Minnesota, Rautins spent the rest of his collegiate career in Syracuse. Over three seasons he averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG. Rautins was drafted by Philadelphia with the 17th pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. His NBA career was short-lived but he played professionally overseas. Rautins is better known to younger SU fans as Andy’s dad nowadays.

» Related: Gbinije having one of SU’s best statistical seasons in history

LeRon Ellis

Ellis transferred to Syracuse after two seasons at Kentucky when the Wildcats were placed on probation. He wasn’t utilized as much during his first year with the Orange given that the team was loaded for bear behind Derrick Coleman, Stevie Thompson and Billy Owens. But he had a more productive senior season in which he averaged 11.1 PPG along with 7.7 RPG. He was drafted by the L.A> Clippers with the 22nd pick in the 1991 NBA Draft.

Ryan Blackwell

After playing high school basketball in Rochester, Blackwell initially chose Illinois over Syracuse. But after a single season he opted for the Orange. In three seasons with Syracuse, Blackwell averaged 11.8 PPG and 7.8 RPG. He helped Syracuse reach the Sweet 16 in his senior season but he’s probably best remembered for the game-winning shot he hit against St. John’s in the semifinals of the 1998 Big East Tournament. Blackwell played professionally overseas.

Wes Johnson

Johnson played only one year for Syracuse but it was memorable. He came to the Orange after two years at Iowa State. And similar to the 2009-10 Syracuse squad, Johnson erupted onto the scene. He averaged 16.5 PPG to go with 8.5 RPG while earning Big East Player of the Year and a spot on the AP All American First Team. Johnson led the Orange to a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the Sweet 16 before falling to Butler. He was drafted fourth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by Minnesota.

Currently biding his time on the Syracuse bench is Paschal Chukwu, a 7-foot transfer from Providence. Set to take the court next year, Chukwu will certainly help out the Orange’s zone defense. Will his offense come around enough for him to earn a spot as one of the most successful players to transfer to Syracuse? Only time will tell.

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About Steve Auger

Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.
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