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Former Syracuse Basketball Star Vinnie Cohen Passes Away

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Vinnie Cohen, an All-American and member of the Syracuse All-Century Team who led Syracuse to its first NCAA berth in 1957, died early last week.

Cohen played for the Orangemen between 1954 and 1957 and was a star from the get-go. As a sophomore in the same class as Jim Brown, he averaged 15.8 PPG as part of a 10-11 squad.

As a junior, he set a Syracuse record with his scoring average (18.2 PPG) and led SU to a much-improved 14-8 record.

In his senior season, the high-flying forward averaged a gaudy 24.2 PPG and led the Orange to a 18-7 record and an NCAA berth. SU made it to the Elite 8 before falling to North Carolina. Cohen scored 26 in the losing effort.

Cohen finished the year as the only SU player ever to score more than 600 points in a season. He was also the then-No. 2 all-time leading scorer in school history (Currently No. 32).

Named an All-American, Cohen was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA but he decided t hang out the gym shorts and pursue a career as a lawyer instead. He would go on to be one of the first African-American attorneys in the Department of Justice and later became a prominent lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Growing up in the world of the 50's, Cohen overcame many racial issues of the day, at Syracuse University and otherwise.

His son, Vinnie Cohen Jr. was a walk-on guard at Syracuse in the early 90's.