This was the decade of Syracuse basketball. The team captured its first National Championship while producing nine NBA players and 12 All Big East players. Here are the best of the decade:
Kueth Duany: A veteran presence in a year when Syracuse sorely lacked it, Duany averaged 11 points and 3.7 rebounds his senior year as Syracuse won the National Championship.
DeShaun Williams: There was no questioning Williams’ ability to score as his 15.9 points was good enough to be named to the Big East Third Team. However, Williams’ off-the-court problems and his inability to stay academically eligible led to him transferring to Iona following the 2001-02 season.
GUARD – ANDY RAUTINS: A smooth shooter with underrated passing and defense, the son of Leo Rautins was a key contributor to Syracuse’s Sweet 16 run in the 2008-09 season.
GUARD – JOSH PACE: Pace was Syracuse’s glue guy. Nothing was particularly impressive in terms of statistics, but Pace was a solid defender and rebounder, and his eight points and eight rebounds was key in the National Title game against Kansas.
FORWARD – PAUL HARRIS: Harris came in as a potential one-and-done player, but his weaknesses were glaring – the swingman had an unreliable shot and often made questionable decisions. Still, Harris was a tremendous rebounder and tenacious defender.
FORWARD – DONTE GREENE: At 6-foot-10, Greene oozed potential with his ability to shoot. Questionable shot selection and poor defense and rebounding hurt Greene’s draft status after his one year at Syracuse. Still, he was drafted in the first round of the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings.
CENTER – CRAIG FORTH: Forth started every single game of his four year career at Syracuse and capably manned the center position. Still, Forth was limited at both ends of the floor often missing easy shots and rebounds.
GUARD – DAMONE BROWN: Although Brown played the majority of his career in the late 90s, he saved his best season for the 2000-01 season. His senior year statistics of 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds earned him a four year career in the NBA.
GUARD – ERIC DEVENDORF: Devendorf was an outstanding shooter for Syracuse but was a liability on defense and had off the court troubles. Devendorf was also frequently the target of opposing team’s fans because of his trash talking.
FORWARD – PRESTON SHUMPERT: Shumpert left Syracuse as one of the most prolific shooters in Orangemen history. Unfortunately, questions about Shumpert’s attitude and his defensive abilities cost him a shot at the NBA.
FORWARD – DEMETRIS NICHOLS: Nichols transformed himself from an inconsistent player to one of the top shooters in the country by the time he left Syracuse. In his senior season, he would lead the team in scoring at 18.9 points a game. He was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NBA draft, and has played for the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.
CENTER – DARRYL WATKINS: “Mookie” ended up being one of the top shot blockers in Syracuse history and a solid rebounder. Although undrafted, he ended up playing nine games in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings.
GUARD – JONNY FLYNN: A dynamic guard that could score and pass from all areas of the floor, Flynn will likely be remembered most for his gutsy 34-point 10-assist effort in Syracuse’s 127-117 victory in six overtimes against Connecticut in the 2009 Big East Quarterfinals. Flynn was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA draft.
GUARD – GERRY MCNAMARA: McNamara left Syracuse as one of its most beloved players and its top 3-point marksmen. McNamara’s accomplishments include six 3-pointers in the 2003 National Championship game and several memorable plays during an incredible run to the 2006 Big East Championship.
FORWARD – CARMELO ANTHONY: Anthony has become the poster child of “one-and-done” in the NCAA. In his lone season at Syracuse, his 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game catapulted the Orange to the National Championship. Anthony has had a successful career with the Denver Nuggets.
FORWARD – HAKIM WARRICK: Warrick will be most remembered for his iconic block of Michael Lee in the waning moments of the 2003 title game. Warrick’s acrobatic abilities earned him the Big East Player of the Year his senior season. He currently plays for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.
CENTER – ARINZE ONUAKU: With the ability to score from inside with both hands, Onuaku was easily Syracuse’s best scoring center in the decade. In his junior year, he set a school record by hitting 66.7 percent of his field goal attempts, a feat that was offset by his 29.8 percent shooting from the free throw line.
Wesley Cheng is a contributing writer for The Juice and SyracuseFan.com.