The NBA Draft and Syracuse University don't have the chummiest of relationships. As recently as the late 90's, the Orange went three consecutive seasons without hearing a player's name on draft night. It's been a steady climb back up Draft Mountain ever since. At least one Syracuse player has been drafted every year since 2007 and we're coming off our first multi-player draft since 2000.
There will be no multi-player draft for the Orange this year. The truth is, we're all just hoping the one-player-draft thing keeps going. Rick Jackson was the lone senior of note for Syracuse this season and he's hoping to hear his name called tonight and celebrate with loved ones.
Tonight, Jackson will return to his home in Philly where he will watch the NBA Draft with a small group of family and friends.
"I’m really trying to keep it small,’’ Jackson said. "Mom, dad, grandparents, cousins.’’
(Jackson's idea of keeping it small apparently includes blasting an open invite to hang out with him and his family at a local club, but, that's neither here nor there)
Despite leading the Big East in rebounding, field goal percentage and blocks this year, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year is no lock for the 2nd round. Some project him as a late pick for teams like New Orleans or Portland but plenty of mock drafts omit him altogether.
Rick does have at least one believer in his corner. Syracuse assistant and Hall-Of-Famer Bernie Fine:
"Everybody loves somebody that can rebound the basketball," Fine said. "If (Jackson) keeps rebounding like he did here, he's going to be in great shape. There aren't a lot of great rebounders around. Rebounders make it their job to get the ball."
"He's gotten better every year," Fine said. "I thought he had a great senior year and really did a good job for us. He led the Big East in rebounding, he led in blocked shots, he led in field goal percentage. I mean, you can't ask for much more than that."
Orange Nation crosses its collective fingers for Rick tonight. He deserves a chance given all the work he put into his four-year career at SU, especially his senior season. Good luck, RickJack.