Orange Watch: A rare similarity for two Syracuse basketball players

BJ Johnson Boeheim's Army
Boeheim's Army forward BJ Johnson looks to drive. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Versatile 6’5” sophomore G/F Alan Griffin this past weekend announced his intention to transfer to Syracuse from Illinois. Griffin is an important addition with the subtraction of three transfers out of the program, and the question mark surrounding Elijah Hughes returning or not. In a best-case scenario being pursued, Griffin, who averaged almost 9-points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Illini, while shooting an attention-grabbing 48% overall, and 42% from three-point range, would be eligible to play whenever the next college basketball season commences. At worst, he would have to sit out until the 2021-22 campaign. Whenever Alan Griffin suits up for the Orange, he and SU assistant coach Allen Griffin (acknowledging the different spelling of the first names) will be only the second duo in Orange basketball history to share the same name.

We wrote an article with the same title except for the word ‘football’ replacing ‘basketball’ in the spring of 2017. That’s when Notre Dame transfer Devin (M.) Butler joined the ‘Cuse secondary for spring practice, alongside teammate Orange wide receiver Devin (C.) Butler.

The two Devin Butlers joined 1972 football players David (A.) King and David (T.) King as the only duo with the same name in program history.

When it comes to the basketball program there are obviously a lot of fewer all-time Lettermen than football in the 117 years of Syracuse hoops, creating less opportunity for the same first/last name, let alone even a number of players sharing the same surname.

» Related: Which Syracuse basketball alum has had the best NBA career?

The only other SU players sharing the same name are Vinny Cohen (1955-57) and Vinny Cohen Jr. (1992).

The most common surname of all-time Syracuse basketball Lettermen (non-managers) is ‘Lee,’ Charles, David, Jim, John, Matthew, and Mike.

There are four groupings of surnames that each have four ex-SU players:

  • Brown-Damone, Jim, Melvin, and Michael
  • Johnson-B.J., Dave, Derrick, and Wes
  • Katz-Everett, Joel, Lawrence, and Milton
  • Williams-DeShaun, Eric, Jim, and Sean

Interestingly, on this past season’s roster there were five players that shared the same surname as a former SU player:

  • Boeheim-Buddy and Jim
  • Carey-Jalen and Chaundu
  • Edwards-Jesse and Michael
  • Hughes-Elijah and Keith
  • Washington-Howard and Pearl

Represented on the all-time Lettermen list on the coaching staff are now two Boeheims, two Autrys, and two Griffins, but there’s only one McNamara, Gerry.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.