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Is Syracuse basketball successful at developing NBA players?

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Is it the goal to get players to the league or make them all-stars?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s news about Darius Bazley skipping college to head right into the G League brought back one of the familiar refrains about Syracuse Orange basketball- the lack of success of former players in the NBA.

We’ve heard plenty of similar comments to this one so I decided to do a bit of digging to see if this was just another #lazynarrative around the Syracuse program. Using the 247 rankings I went back to the 2003 class to look at the players that the Orange brought in after the Championship season. Using this metric, Syracuse has only brought in one top 10 recruit in that time period- Donte Greene (Bazley would have been the second). Despite lacking a lot of can’t miss recruits, the Orange have produced nine first round picks and four second round picks in that time. (For sake of the development angle, I’m not including Wes Johnson or Mike Gbinije here).

The debate about the Syracuse development becomes even more muddled when you look at this statistic.

So in this “One and Done” era, the Orange sits 4th in terms of first-round picks. When I went back to look at how these players, I found that most of the NBA picks were top 30 recruits, but it wasn’t a guarantee for future success. What is clear is that Syracuse has often recruited without concern for rankings and that the program certainly isn’t hindering the development of players.

Take a look for yourself at what we’ve seen the last 15 years

Syracuse BB Recruiting

Year Player 24/7 Ranking NBA Draft NBA Games Played (as of 4/3)
Year Player 24/7 Ranking NBA Draft NBA Games Played (as of 4/3)
2003 Daryl Watkins 24 14
Demetris Nichols 28 53 18
Terrence Roberts 42 0
Louie McCroskey 70 0
2004 Josh Wright 43 0
Dayshawn Wright 72 0
2005 Eric Devendorf 33 0
Arinze Onuaku 201 19
2006 Paul Harris 12 0
Mike Jones 38 0
Devin Brennan-McBride 157 0
2007 Donte Greene 7 28 253
Jonny Flynn 18 6 163
Scoop Jardine 53 0
Rick Jackson 55 0
Sean Williams 284 0
***** Andy Rautins 5
2008 Mookie Jones 43 0
Kris Joseph 58 51 10
2009 Brandon Triche 122 0
**** James Southerland 4
2010 Fab Melo 14 22 6
Dion Waiters 21 4 365
CJ Fair 81 0
Baye Keita 146 0
2011 Rakeem Christmas 23 36 30
Michael Carter-Williams 26 11 287
Trevor Cooney 105 0
2012 Dejaun Coleman 22 0
Jerami Grant 48 39 299
2013 Tyler Ennis 23 18 180
Tyler Roberson 41 0
BJ Johnson 89 0
Ron Patterson 175 0
Chino Okoboh 180 0
2014 Chris McCullough 21 29 59
Kaleb Joseph 48 0
2015 Malachi Richardson 34 22 48
Tyler Lydon 72 24 1
Frank Howard 79 0
2016 Tyus Battle 34 0
Matthew Moyer 66 0
Taurean Thompson 74 0
2017 Marek Dolezaj 111 0
Oshae Brissett 137 0
Bourama Sidibe 190 0
Howard Washington 289 0
2018 Jalen Carey 56 0
Buddy Boeheim 318 0
Darius Bazley 8 0
Syracuse Recruiting *** No recruiting data was listed

When you look at the overall recruiting picture for the last 15 years, I can see how some people can critique the lack of former Orange players who have gone on to star in the NBA. Just like I’d be cautious about giving too much credit to John Calipari for the NBA success of his former players, I wouldn’t place blame on Jim Boeheim if the Orange alums haven’t found that same success professionally.

However, shouldn’t the goal of the program be to get players into the league in the first place?