After the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team lost to Maryland, 19-9 in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, a cruel and unfair ending to the careers of many Orange senior, head coach Gary Gait anointed now-former SU star Kayla Treanor as the “greatest Syracuse lacrosse player ever.” That’s not due to recency bias — Treanor sits atop the program’s all-time goals leaderboard, having found the net an astounding 260 times during her four seasons in Central New York.
Gait’s proclamation got me thinking: who’s the best basketball player to ever don the Orange? It’s certainly a difficult question to answer, as the program’s rich, decades-long history features several legends. Before we dive in, here’s a very important caveat: we’re only considering each player’s college career, and ignoring what they did at the professional level. Also, I’m limiting myself to five honorable mentions. If I miss anyone, or you disagree with my pick for the top spot, leave a comment below.
Greatest of all time: Dave Bing
Bing last played for SU 50 years ago, but his career average of 24.7 points a night still stands as a program record — that includes a senior campaign in which he poured in 28.2 points per game, the most prolific scoring season in Syracuse history. He also averaged double digit rebounds during his time in Central New York, despite standing at just 6-foot-3. Plus, he shared a backcourt with Jim Boeheim, which gives him bonus points.
- Dwayne “Pearl” Washington: The late, great Pearl left a lasting legacy on Orange hoops that goes far beyond stats, as he put Syracuse on the basketball map and helped establish the Big East as a basketball powerhouse.
- Derrick Coleman: Coleman pulled down more boards (1,537) than any other Syracuse player, and ranks second in career scoring (2,143). He averaged a double-double in three consecutive seasons.
- Carmelo Anthony: Melo averaged 22.2 points, 10 boards, and 1.6 steals as he led SU to its only NCAA Tournament championship, in 2003.
- John Wallace: The Rochester native ranks third all-time in both points and rebounds, and carried Syracuse to the 1996 national championship game.
- Sherman Douglas: By the time he was done playing in the Carrier Dome, The General held not only the program record for points (2,060), but also the NCAA record for assists (960).