Anthony's presence still here

Yes, Carmelo Anthony is gone. Probably to the Denver Nuggets or the Detroit Pistons. In his month's absence from the Syracuse Orangemen, Anthony has appeared on ABC and ESPN, and inked a new contract that will provide him with more free Nikes than he will ever need.

Anthony's gone from Syracuse life. He's moved on to bigger, and hopefully for him, better, things. But just because Anthony is gone from Syracuse, it doesn't mean that Syracuse still won't reap the benefits of Anthony's stellar freshman year.

The theory is called the Anthony effect.

Though Anthony was "one and done", he's put down the foundation for blue chip recruits for years to come while establishing Syracuse as one of the nation's premiere programs.

Before last season, Syracuse, while certainly a program with tradition, wasn't considered among the elite. Their recruiting class was the best it had seen in years, ranked No. 8. Spearheaded by Anthony, the Orangemen started the season at No. 26.

That won't be the case next year. The Orangemen will likely be ranked in the top 15, not a feat to be taken lightly. Consider Syracuse never cracked the top five last year, and the picture becomes a little more clear.

Then there is the recruiting side. Syracuse already inked three top 100 players in the early signing period for next year. A recruiting class that includes power forward Terrence Roberts, shooting guard Louis McCroskey, and small forward Demetris Nichols was further boosted by the recent signing of Darryl Watkins.

Watkins is the center that Syracuse has been missing since Etan Thomas graduated. He can block shots, rebound, and unlike Craig Forth and Jeremy McNeil, put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis.

Watkins was torn between Syracuse and Rutgers. The native of Paterson, NJ, had been courted by Rutgers since his early days of high school. And you can't blame Watkins for wanting to go to Rutgers. The kid is a stud. He would've been the Scarlet Knights' go-to man.

Watkins would've been putting up 15 points and eight rebounds his freshman year, and might've even had a chance of jumping early to the NBA, theoretically by his sophomore year.

But when it came down to crunch time in the signing game, Watkins took a look at both programs, and knew Syracuse was the proper choice. Syracuse, after all, had just won the national championship, a move his father told the Post-Standard, made the final difference.

Granted, Anthony didn't win a championship by himself. There was Gerry McNamara, and Josh Pace, and Billy Edelin – not to mention Kueth Duany and a magnificent yet constantly underrated coaching staff. But Anthony was the lynchpin of the group. He set things in motion, and made sure that the Orangemen would be a force for years to come.

Thank Anthony for the Orangemen pulling Watkins out of the blue. Thank Anthony for talking to three top 100 recruits and getting them to sign early. Thank Anthony for putting the Orangemen among the elite.

The ‘Anthony effect' is in full swing, and Syracuse is well aware of it.

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