When it was time to make a college decision, Pearl Washington, the top rated high school recruit chose the Orange. Washington said that he wanted to play in the Carrier Dome, which had just opened in 1980. That decision boosted Syracuse into the upper echelon of college basketball. With a massive Dome to host the largest crowds in college basketball, the recruiting element was obvious.
From 1983 to 1986 Washington led the Orange in assists and steals. He also averaged over 15 points. Washington brought a New York City swagger to the Dome, making flashy plays all over the floor.
While he didn’t have jittery speed, Washington found teammates all over the floor. Of course, he could also make a play without any help – like he did to take down Boston College with a half-court buzzer beater.
More so than any other point guard in SU history, Washington handled the basketball like a yo-yo. Just when defenders thought they could swipe the ball away, Washington would reel it back and finish them off with a crossover. He was nearly impossible to guard one-on-one. But with his incredible court vision, teams couldn’t double-team Washington either. One way or the other, he was going to burn the opponent.
Besides putting Syracuse on the national scene, Washington helped the Big-East gain notoriety. The recently formed conference relied on SU’s electric point guard for increased recognition. And for Pearl, the bigger the stage, the brighter he shined.
After a junior season where he was named a first team All-American, Washington decided to go pro. In an illustrious college career, Washington was also named Big East Rookie of the Year and First Team Big East in all three seasons. He would go on to be drafted No. 13 overall by the New Jersey Nets.