Throughout its history, Syracuse has been a consistent source of NBA talent, ranking among the most prolific finishing schools in college basketball. Some of the game’s greats have represented the Orange on the way to memorable careers, and right now there are nine former Orange players starring in the NBA, including star Carmelo Anthony and former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
Along with Jerami Grant, Anthony is one of two Syracuse graduates on the Oklahoma roster, and will be vital to the Thunder’s chances of making a big impact in the playoffs this season. Fans who like to bet on Stakers.com make the Thunder the third favorites among teams in the Western Conference to win the Championship, and it would be great to see two former Orange stars play on the biggest stage of all.
Grant and Anthony are following in a proud tradition of Syracuse talent enriching the NBA, and while there isn’t room here to list all of the top NBA players that the college has produced in its long and distinguished history, here are five of the greatest for your consideration.
The General set an all-time NCAA record for assists with Syracuse before being drafted by the Miami Heat in 1989. He made an immediate impact, landing a spot on the All-Rookie First Team and went on to rank in the top ten for assists three times during his career, with his best assists performance coming in 1993-94 when he finished sixth behind John Stockton, Mookie Blaylock, Kenny Anderson, Muggsy Bogues, and Rod Strickland. The following year, he guided the Celtics to the playoffs, averaging 14.7 points and 6.9 assists, and he ended his 12-year NBA career with an 11 point and 5.9 assist average.
One of the first international players to make an impact in the NBA, Seikaly was drafted by the Heat in 1988 and went on play six seasons in Miami, becoming one of their all-time greats. He ranks third behind Udonis Haslem and Alonzo Mourning in the Heat rankings for rebounds, and finished among the Top Ten rebounders in the NBA on three separate occasions. Averaging a double-double five times during his career, he went on to play for Golden State, Orlando, and the New Jersey Nets.
The highest-drafted player in the history of Syracuse, Coleman was the number-one draft pick in 1990, going to the New Jersey Nets, for whom he won the Rookie of the Year award. The legendary Charles Barkley once said that Coleman had the potential to become the NBA’s greatest ever power forward, and while he didn’t quite live up to that reputation, Coleman became the first All-Star in the Nets’ history, twice finishing in the Top Ten for rebounds, and averaging a double-double on five occasions.
Perhaps the greatest Syracuse graduate of all, Bing is the only former Orange player to earn a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the only former Syracuse player to be named in the All-NBA First Team – an honour that he earned twice in his career. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1966, Bing played for 12 years in the NBA, leading the league for points scored during the 1967-68 season and finishing second behind Oscar Robertson in points per game. Bing also finished in the Top Ten for assists on six occasions, and was a seven-time All-Star Team pick during his stellar career.
Perhaps the most gifted offensive player ever to emerge from Syracuse, Anthony will always be remembered for his role in bringing the Orange their first national championship. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2003, he went on to spend six years with the New York Knicks before moving to Oklahoma last year. Currently in his 15th season, the dynamic forward has never averaged less than 20 points per game and is a ten-time All Star. His best season came in 2012-13 when he led the league in scoring average, ahead of Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and James Harden. Currently ranked 21st in the NBA’s all-time points scorer list, he is closing in on the top 20, and the only thing missing is an NBA title.
The Orange have a deserved reputation as a nursery of top basketball talent, producing a number of the game’s greats, and Syracuse fans can look forward to many more future NBA stars rolling off the Orange conveyor belt in years to come.