My Top 10 Syracuse Orange Players of the Last 25 Years

By: 03.25.10  •  34 Comments

What’s up everyone? Yeah, your boy CGF is back…and I have to get some stuff off my chest. Last night Pat informed me of his favorite Duke Blue Devils of the past 25 years list and like a lot of you guys, I am in shock. I know, I know it’s a “favorite” list but still no Jay Will or C-Booz?!?

With that said, I needed to get in on this being that I am huge Syracuse Orange fan. ‘The ‘Cuse has always been my team, growing up in New York I used to go to St. John’s and LIU games with my uncle. For some reason I never felt like a fan. There were players I though were nasty like Felipe Lopez and Mike Campbell, but I never really rooted for their respective programs. Even when Syracuse had tough seasons, the Orangemen (no the Orange) were always my squad.

Here are my Top 10 players of the last 25 years:

10. Jim Boeheim – There is something you have to respect about a walk on at the ‘Cuse like Coach B did back in the day who practiced and worked his way to actually getting playing time. Who knew he’d work his way to becoming the greatest college coach ever? Yeah, I said it … ok, I got ahead of myself. He’s top 10 though!

9. Jason Cipolla – Man Jason Cipolla could shoot the sh*t out of the ball. He wasn’t as good of a shooter as other Syracuse gunners like Marius Janulis, but when it came down to it Cipolla hit big shots. I remember in 1996 when Cipolla hit a jumper that tied the game against Georgia in the NCAA Tourney. Plus, if you didn’t know, last I heard he dates Lorraine Bracco from The Sopranos. Don’t ask any questions, just know he’s the f’n man

8. Otis Hill – I’m not sure if I am an Otis Hill fan because of what he did on the floor or because he is from around my way. I remember playing in summer leagues at Ferris Avenue Park in White Plains and staying late to watch Otis Hill and his cousin Danya Abrams go at it. O was a great compliment to John Wallace on that great ‘Cuse front line of the mid-’90’s. He rebounded very well and didn’t need plays run for him to score. Kinda reminds me of Arinze Onuaku.

7. Jonny Flynn – When I first started at Dime I had to interview some high school players who were about to hoop in the Jordan Classic. I remember asking Malik Boothe, who is at St. John’s now, who was the best player he ever played against and he said Jonny Flynn. I knew Flynn had committed to ‘Cuse but I hadn’t really had a chance to see him play at that point. Well, he didn’t disappoint. Flynn has the heart of a 7-4 dude. Jonny never backed down while on the court during his short stint up in Syracuse and his performance in the 6-OT thriller will go down as one of the greatest single performances in NCAA history.

6. Demetris Nichols – What is there not to like about a 6-8 shooter? I’ve talked to Nichols on more than one occasion and he is one of the most soft spoken cats I know … but don’t let that fool you. Nichols got buckets all over the Big East. His last year he led the conference in scoring and was snubbed (yeah I said it Austin) when Jeff Green of Georgetown won POY honors. This mix makes me cry. I think it’s the song…

5. Hakim Warrick – Affectionately known as “Skinny,” Hakim Warrick made arguably the single greatest play in the history of Syracuse basketball. I remember watching the National Championship Game in my dorm room while all of my friends were out at some party. Hakim held it down during the rest of his Orange career, and is doing his thing in the L for the Chicago Bulls. Does anyone remember this…?

4. Andy Rautins – I don’t wanna say “I told you so,” but I TOLD YOU SO. Back when Andy first started out at Syracuse I knew he was going to be good. So good that on College Hoops 2K3 he was my go-to guy. I dubbed the Jamestown, N.Y. native “Andy Buckets.” People thought Rautins was just a shooter, but he’s shown that he not only has a ratchet but he is also a floor leader, has heart (coming back from that terrible knee injury), and can pass the hell out of the ball. I have been arguing for a minute with Pat about if he is a pro or not. I mean, the dude had 24 points in the destruction of Gonzaga. I’m just sayin…

3. Billy Edelin – How many of you guys remember Billy Edelin? Going into the 2002-2003 season I was the biggest Billy Edelin fan there was, and I hadn’t even see him play yet! Billy had some problems when he first got up to Syracuse and had to sit out a few games, but I knew about his big time rep coming out of Oak Hill. I think I liked him because we had similar styles of play: EVERYTHING TO THE BASKET NO MATTER WHAT.

2. Carmelo Anthony – No he isn’t number one for me, but ‘Melo is still that dude. I saw Melo play in the Garden against Memphis early in his first and only year at Syracuse, and while the Orange lost I was in awe of the kid’s ability. I saw him play against LeBron on TV in his senior year at Oak Hill and thought, “OK, Coach Boeheim got just another athletic 6-8 wing.” Well I was wrong. Melo’s game even at a young age was so smooth, he killed that year at ‘Cuse and was unstoppable in the NCAA Tournament. He gave Texas the business, who had National Player of the Year TJ Ford on their roster, on the way to the NCAA Championship. I wonder what ‘Melo is doing now, anyone heard from him or seen him…?

1. Gerry McNamara – It hurts my heart every day that I wake up and I don’t see G-Mac in an NBA jersey. The kid from Scranton came into his college career with little to no hype and left a legend. He, in my opinion is one of the greatest performers in college basketball history. Oh, you don’t agree? He tied the record for threes made in a National Championship Game as a freshman and won a title and he has a slew of buzzer beaters under his belt. Oh, and he won the Big East Tournament BY HIMSELF! Jim Boeheim said it best… we love you Gerry!!

(NOTE: With these lists, there’s a difference between “best” and “favorite.”)

Honorable Mention: Josh Pace, Preston Shumpert, Damone Brown, Kueth Duany, and Terrance Roberts

Check out these other Sweet 16 Favorite Articles:

My Top 10 Favorite Michigan State Spartans of the Past 25 Years

My Top 10 Favorite Duke Blue Devils of the Past 25 Years

My Top 10 Favorite Washington Huskies of the Past 25 Years

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