One of the many legendary #44s in Orange history claims the 13th spot on our SU Top 100 list. Derrick Coleman brought Detroit toughness to the iconic old Big East en route to one of the best careers Syracuse basketball has ever seen.
Coleman was ahead of his time basketball-wise. You could drop him into today’s game and he would have experienced just as much, if not more, success. He was a long and lanky big man who could handle the ball and step out for jumpers, while also being a menace on the boards.
Coleman’s Orange career began with a bang. He introduced himself to the Orange faithful with a Big East Rookie of the Year trophy after averaging nearly 12 points and almost 9 rebounds per game. DC was a part of the 1986-87 team that shocked the country and blended youth and talent to get to the program’s first ever national championship game. However, there’s one moment from Coleman’s freshman year that still haunts SU fans. With less than 30 seconds to play and one point Orange lead, Coleman went to the line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end and I’m not going to trigger a recollection of a traumatic Syracuse memory.
Coleman’s SU teams were arguably the peak of Orange basketball in terms of regular season performance. He never was worse than a 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and made it to the big dance all four years.
Despite playing alongside some extremely talented teammates (many of which have been featured in our top 100), Coleman rose above the rest. He left SU as the program’s leader in rebounds, points, minutes and second in blocks. He also sits inside the top 25 in NCAA history in rebounding.
His trophy case features three straight All-Big East First Team nods from his sophomore season and beyond in addition to the third team selection as a freshman. As a senior, he won Big East Player of the Year and was picked as a First Team All-American.
Coleman’s SU success made him the only number one overall draft pick in Orange history after being picked by the Nets in 1990, one slot ahead of Hall of Famer Gary Payton.
While he may not have performed to the level of his draft status, Coleman still had a very productive NBA career. He made an immediate impact by winning Rookie of the Year and was a 2-time All-NBA selection to go along with an All-Star selection. He averaged a double-double in five of his first six full seasons, including averaging at least 20 points per game for three straight years.
Too high? Too low? Let us know in the comments or on our Twitter account @OrangeFizz. Keep up with the final stretch of our SU Top 100 list and check out our full breakdowns on our latest episodes of Fizz Radio and the FizzCast.