We’ve all heard the lazy assessment of Syracuse players for years now. “Orange players can’t succeed in the NBA because they play in the zone.” (just do a quick Twitter search if you need a refresher on this commonly-held, false belief)
In recent years, it seems that NBA coaches and general managers aren’t concerned with the validity of those claims. Syracuse has had six straight first round picks, and has quietly built itself into a factory for pro players. From a recruiting standpoint, that’s great. And it doesn’t matter that Carmelo Anthony’s the only player in the last 20 years to turn into a real NBA star.
It’s also par for the course that ‘Melo is the program’s only NBA star in that stretch.
I posted this in the comments last week, but felt it was worth expanding upon: Which schools have produced a legitimate star since 2000? (first All-Star appearance after 2000)
Ends up the list isn’t very long, and it does underline that Syracuse’s rate of success there is the rule, not the exception.
Three: Kentucky Wildcats
One: Arizona State, Arkansas, Butler, Davidson, Duke, Florida, Fresno State, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, San Diego State, Santa Clara, Syracuse, Texas A&M, UNLV, USC, Villanova, Virginia Union, Wake Forest, Washington State, Weber State
For all of the shade tossed Syracuse’s way, there are plenty of schools with more chances to produce all-stars that have failed to do so. No, we don’t necessarily want to be inhabiting the same place on the list as Virginia Union and Weber State. But that grouping also includes Duke, Florida, Kansas and North Carolina -- schools that have experience similar or greater success than SU in the past two decades, both in terms of championships and NBA Draft picks.
The Duke, KU and UNC points are probably the most glaring of all. You never hear critiques about the latter two school’s abilities to coach up pros. Duke, there have been some murmurs over the years (but those have disappeared over time). Why aren’t these schools being subjected to the same skepticism that fans, media meet Jim Boeheim’s players with at the next level?
Maybe it has to do with Jim Boeheim’s public demeanor. Maybe it’s SU’s lack of frequent Final Four trips until recently. But there’s a dissonance between perception and reality here. It’s just good to see that in practice, SU’s doing just fine.