By Christopher Lane - It’s pretty obvious that Syracuse has been recruiting some of the best players in college basketball to play in the Carrier Dome over the past 10 years. Since the championship season in 2003, SU has made the NCAA Tournament eight times, taking no lower than a six seed each trip. Guided by these floor generals, the Orange’s players caught the national spotlight and many of them would be drafted to the NBA. The most recent player from Syracuse to be drafted was Michael Carter-Williams, standout sophomore point guard and an instrumental piece of the trip to the Final Four in Atlanta last season. In addition to Carter-Williams, SU has sent several other players to the NBA as well including Carmelo Anthony, Wesley Johnson, Johnny Flynn, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph and now Arinze Onuaku, former SU center. So let’s take a look at how some of these players are doing in the NBA…
Carter-Williams has been stealing the rookie spotlight from top picks such as Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett and Victor Oladipo. The former Orange point guard started the season on fire, guiding the underdog Philadelphia 76ers to wins over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, as well as numerous other great teams. His stat lines are incredible for a rookie and he has already established his name within the NBA as a potential great point guard in the future.
Speaking of great players, Carmelo Anthony has been having a terrific season. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about his team, the New York Knicks. Anthony has been making an effort to step up for his teammates averaging just over 28 points per game. The rest of his team, however, can’t put it together behind Melo’s incredible ability to put the ball into the basket. At 3-13 the Knicks just lost their ninth straight game, in which Anthony scored 23 points and snagged 10 rebounds as well. The former Syracuse star is now extremely frustrated with his team, and claims that the losses are beginning to take a toll on his ability to continue to carry the team night in and night out.
My interest, however, has been piqued by former SU small forward Wesley Johnson. After being drafted as the fourth pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010, Johnson is finally seeing some recognition for his abilities. After two disappointing seasons, Johnson was traded to the Phoenix Suns where he hardly saw any minutes. It wasn’t until this season that the small forward was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he is making a massive impact. I haven’t found a top 10 highlight reel on NBA.com that doesn’t have an emphatic slam dunk by the up and coming Laker. Johnson just recently had a 27 point game, during which he sank 6-7 three pointers and shot nearly 82% from the floor.
It’s great to see these former Syracuse Orange make an impact in the NBA. I would love to see more Orange across the NBA in the future and with Syracuse basketball starting out 7-0 it’s beginning to look like we just might.