We did it. We have officially made it through our SU Top 100 list. To do something like this takes a lot of time and effort. It’s definitely not easy. The staff at Orange Fizz is proud of the list we came up with, but obviously nothing is perfect. So this week, we will be looking back at our work to see where we can improve.
Brad: Jim Boeheim
If this list ranked the Top-100 walk-ons in Syracuse history, then Boeheim would have a case, but as an athlete the 44-year head coach has no business on this list. It’s a great story. Boeheim turned down a scholarship at Colgate to walk onto the Hill. He roomed with Dave Bing, and didn’t make varsity his first year. Eventually, Boeheim worked his way up to a co-captain alongside Bing, leading the Orange to a 22-6 record and only their second NCAA Tournament berth as a senior. But the numbers don’t lie. The Lyons, NY native averaged less than 10 points and about two rebounds per game.
Gill: Malachi Richardson
I’m shocked nobody else chose Malachi. I’m all for one-and-dones on this list. I think Wesley Johnson at is way too low at #89, and I ranked Carmelo #3. But Richardson is the wrong kind of one-and-done. He caught fire in the 2016 NCAA tournament and led Syracuse in its greatest comeback victory ever to make the Final Four. With his name suddenly in the limelight, he used the momentum to enter the NBA draft. He went 22nd overall to the Hornets, who traded his rights to the Kings. Richardson has never averaged more than four points per game in the NBA or more than 15 minutes. That is a one-and-done worth resenting, because he wasn’t ready for the league. Although financially and personally, it could have been a great decision. Malachi should have paid a small price for his departure on this list.
Jaron: Chandler Jones
Now don’t get me wrong, Chandler Jones is an absolute beast and is currently a top-five defensive lineman in the NFL. But a No. 26 ranking on our SU Top 100 list is just way too high for him. Jones is a beneficiary of both recency bias and pro-career bias. When you look at Jones’ time at Syracuse, it was good, but not great. He redshirted his freshman year, barely played his sophomore season, and only had 4.0 sacks his junior campaign. Jones’ senior season was his best with 4.5 sacks, while missing five games due to injury. Again, good but not great. Jones was a high draft pick and has succeeded in the NFL and that is why I think he’s so high on our list.
Matt: Adrian Autry
Let’s be honest, Adrian Autry was a solid in his time as a player for the SU basketball team. But to place him at number 47, up around names like C.J. Fair and Roosevelt Bouie, and above names like Brandon Triche, Bill Smith, Eric Devendorf and Dion Waiters is straight up blasphemous. Autry was good in his time with the orange, but never the best player on the team nor a part of a team that made any sort of long NCAA tournament runs. This placing just simply doesn’t make much sense, Autry deserves to be much further down the list, if even on it at all.
Ian: Michael Gbinije
There is no problem with Michael Gbinije being on this list. But the recency bias is strong if people really believe he’s a top-35 Syracuse athlete. Putting him over guys like Hakim Warrick, who made the biggest play in SU history, or Billy Owens, a Big East Player of the Year, is extremely tough to stomach. Keep in mind Gbinije wasn’t a full time starter until his senior year, and was helped along in his final season by Malachi Richardson’s NCAA tournament explosion. Gbinije was most certainly a leader, and hit big shots for the Orange as they made their way to the Final Four, but his time in Central New York certainly didn’t have the impact on the basketball world that Warrick’s or Owens’ did. Is it due to the fact he transferred? Absolutely.
Thomas: Dion Waiters
There’s a few men’s basketball players on this list who I don’t think have any business being ranked. As an athlete, Jim Boeheim shouldn’t be ranked. I’m sure he’d agree. Malachi Richardson is another one, despite the Final Four run. But the most egregious ranking is easily Dion Waiters. I get that SU fans have a weird relationship with Dion. He should’ve started purely based on talent at Syracuse. But it’s hard to argue with Boeheim’s decision to bench the talented guard. As for his play on the court, Waiters averaged less than 10 points in his two years at Syracuse. In 24 minutes per game in his sophomore year, Waiters scored almost 13 points per game. While those are solid numbers, they certainly aren’t eye popping. In no way does that deserve to be ranked in the Top 100 SU athletes of all-time. Of course, his NBA career boosts his status. But if we are strictly relying on his Syracuse career, Waiters isn’t close to a Top-100 player.
D.A.: C.J. Fair
While Fair had a full four years at Syracuse to build a resume, he was never a true star. His best season was as a senior when he was one of 30 finalists for National Player of the Year. But Fair topped out that year averaging 16 points per game and 6 assists. He was all-conference twice, as a junior he was All-Big East second team, and then first team All-ACC as a senior. While he was a fan favorite it’s hard to justify putting him at #43, ahead of names like Kayla Treanor (three time finalist for National Player of the Year), Ryan Nassib and Eric Dungey (both held the records for most career passing stats in program history when they graduated).
Harrison: Michael Gbinije
Don’t get me wrong, Michael Gbinije did some great things at SU after transferring from Duke. He played an integral role as a senior in the Orange’s improbable Final Four run in 2016, but let’s be real… he has no business coming in at No. 33 on this list. His best season at SU, which was his last, saw him average just over 17 points per game. Gbinije definitely improved year-to-year in his time on The Hill, but he is not the 33rd best athlete in school history… far from it, with all due respect.
Tyler: Malachi Richardson
Richardson is no doubt one of my favorite athletes I’ve ever seen and is on my Mount Rushmore of Syracuse players that I will forever hold a personal bias in favor of. But I’ve drawn the line in the sand. While Richardson owns a top 10 moment in Syracuse athletics history, he does not own a spot in the top 100 athletes. In his lone season with SU, Richardson eclipsed 20 points three times in the regular season and the Orange went 0-3. The only other times he topped the 20 point ledger came in the tournament. He has his “One Shining Moment” from the tournament, but also produced a couple duds during that run against Middle Tennessee State and Gonzaga. I love Malachi. He’s easily one of the recruits I’ve been most excited to see play at SU. He definitely would have been on this list had he stayed at least another year. I can never knock a guy for chasing his dream and if I were in his shoes I also would have gone pro. But chasing your dreams means sacrifice. And in this case, he should not have been in the top 100.
You can find the full SU Top 100 list by clicking here.