Wow, we’ve made it. The SU Top 100 list and our corresponding FizzCasts are almost over. There have been a lot of talented and accomplished athletes that have made the list so far. Now it is the time you have all been waiting for. You knew this name was going to be at the top of the list. Ready for it? Coming in at No. 3 is Carmelo Anthony.
Oh boy, where do we even start with Melo. He is hands down the best player in Syracuse Men’s Basketball history, and you can very well say he is the best collegiate basketball player ever. Although Anthony only played for the Orange for one season, that year was so special he earned those titles.
Before Anthony even stepped foot in the Dome, he was already a star. A highly touted prospect with an afro as big as his dreams. Anthony attended Oak Hill Academy for his senior year of high school, where he averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. He played in some big time games, including a historic matchup against a high school-aged Lebron James. Anthony would drop 34 points in that one to lead Oak Hill to a win.
Melo only lost one game at Oak Hill and went on to be a McDonald’s All-American.
Following his outstanding high school career, Anthony cut his fro, went to the braids, and started donning orange. He played for Syracuse in the 2002-2003 season and put together the best one-and-done campaign in program history.
As a freshman, Anthony started all 35 games, averaging over 36 minutes in each contest. His big smile and electric play was mesmerizing. Plus, Anthony was as consistent as they came. He averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists per game throughout the season. He also shot 45% from the field and scored double-digits points in every single game.
No matter the competition or how bright the lights were, Melo was always cool, calm and collected. In his first three collegiate games, he scored 27 or more points. Anthony wasn’t nervous at the start and he wasn’t nervous against stiff competition. He poured in 30 points against rival Georgetown in March and a career-high 33 points against Texas in the Final Four.
Speaking of the Final Four, Anthony led his team all the way to the National Championship in 2003. He scored in double figures in every game of the NCAA Tournament and tallied three double-doubles. One of those double-doubles was in the title game against Kansas. If you are a Syracuse sports fan, you obviously know how that game ended. Anthony scored 20 points and snatched 10 boards to help Syracuse win its first and only National Championship. Melo was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
For all of the amazing basketball players we have had on our SU Top 100 list so far, very few can say they are national champs. Anthony, however, can. And he can say it proudly because he was the reason why the Orange were so dominant that season.
Anthony’s dominance earned him a spot on the All-Big East First-Team, in addition to being named First-Team All-American and the Big East Rookie of the Year. He finished the year with the most points scored by a freshman and third most by anyone in a single season in SU history.
“By far the best player in college basketball. It wasn’t even close. Nobody was even close to him last year in college basketball. That’s the bottom line.” ~Jim Boeheim
Despite the Syracuse faithful wanting Melo to stick around, he declared for the 2003 NBA Draft where he was taken third overall by the Denver Nuggets. He was selected behind Lebron James and Darko Milicic. Melo’s professional career has had its ups and its downs with stops in Denver, New York, Oklahoma City, Houston, and now Portland. He is a ten-time All Star, six-time All-NBA player, and was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award in 2004.
Anthony has also represented the United States in the Olympics. Wearing the red, white and blue in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Melo and the US won gold three times and bronze once.
Melo has accomplished a lot in his basketball career, but nothing can compete with what he did while he was at Syracuse.
Although he only played one year at SU, Carmelo Anthony is easily a top-three athlete of all time. He is more than deserving of the No. 3 spot on the SU Top 100 list. Don’t believe us? Just look up the next time you’re in the Carrier Dome.