Draft Lookback: Syracuse in the '90s

Despite not having a player chosen in the NBA Draft for the last three years of this decade, Syracuse sent some of their best to the professional ranks in the 1990s. See them inside.

In the final decade before the turn of the century, the Syracuse Orange men's basketball program had seven players chosen in six years.

Beginning the decade, Derrick Coleman was selected first overall for the entire draft, going to the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets.

Coleman was a starter from day one, in the first five for the Orange in all but two of the 143 games that he played in.

He pulled down more than 1,500 rebounds and scored in excess of 2,100 points in his four years with the Orange.

Coleman would average a double-double in his final three seasons with Syracuse, his best coming when he was a senior, where he scored 17.9 points and grabbed 12.1 rebounds per match.

At the center position in the 1988-89 season, Coleman blocked 127 shots.

He began his career on the Orange as the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year and ended his collegiate career as the Big East Conference Player of the Year.

Coleman was a member of the Big East All-Conference First Team from his sophomore to his senior season.

As a pro, Coleman played with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets after being drafted by them and then moved onto the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, and Detroit Pistons, amounting 15 years in the NBA.

He scored more than 12,800 points and totaled more than 7,200 rebounds in the NBA, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game over his 15 years.

Billy Owens and LeRon Ellis made it three straight Orange players chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft. Owens went third to the Sacramento Kings while the Los Angele Clippers used their 22nd pick on Ellis.

Owens was a starter from the moment his first season started with the Orange. Even with Coleman and Stephen Thompson on the floor, Owens averaged double-figures in points and grabbed no less than six rebounds per game.

As a junior he was voted Big East Conference Player of the Year, a season in which he averaged 23.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per match. His 20+ average in points made him the first player under Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim to accomplish such a feat.

At the forward position, Owens also showed his ability to be a helper, dishing out no less than three assists per game in his three seasons with the Orange.

Leaving before his senior season, Owens would go on to play for 10 seasons in the NBA, beginning with the Kings who drafted him and then moving on to the Miami Heat, Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder), Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons. He played in 600 games even, attaining in excess of 7,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, and 1,700 assists in his NBA career.

Ellis went from scoring a little over four points per game in his freshman season to averaging 16 points per contest as a sophomore while at Kentucky.

Placed on probation, Kentucky had something to lose with the NCAA allowing its players to leave without losing a year of eligibility.

Ellis did just that, coming to Syracuse. Though he would never be as dominant a scorer on the Orange, Ellis did attain a little over 11 points and just under eight rebounds per game in his senior season with Syracuse, starting in every game.

With the absence of Coleman and Thompson in that season (1990-91), Ellis showed a heightened defensive presence. He almost doubled the amount of steals he had from his prior season and more than tripled his total for blocked shots.

Overall, he nearly doubled his performance on the boards from his junior to senior year.

Ellis would elevate to the NBA, playing first with the Los Angeles Clippers, after being drafted by that organization, and then moving on to the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat. He competed in a total of three seasons, one with each of the teams mentioned.

David Johnson became the fourth consecutive Syracuse alum chosen in the first round when he came off the board at pick 26 which belonged to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Johnson entered onto the Orange as the team's sixth man, playing in 37 games, starting in none.

As a sophomore, Johnson would start in almost half of the games he participated in.

Foreshadowing a rivalry that could be built beginning in the upcoming 2013-14 season, Syracuse defeated then #1 ranked Duke in the Big East/ACC Challenge after Johnson made both of his free throws at the end of the match that happened in his second season (1989-90).

In the second half of his career at Syracuse, Johnson shot up the offensive charts, going from 4.2 and 6.5 points per game in his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively, to over 19 points per game in both his junior and senior campaigns.

Johnson got better with time and that helped to give him an opportunity in the NBA.

But, ironically, time would be short there for Johnson as he played with the Trailblazers and the Chicago Bulls each for one season.

Conrad McRae would hear his name called by the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) in round two of the 1993 draft.

McRae was another player that became better with time as shown in his increase from 1.9 to 11.9 points per game from his freshman to his senior season.

Defensively, he would rise from 16 blocked shots as a freshman to 76 as a senior. He would have no less than 40 blocked shots in his last three seasons with the Orange.

He would come off the bench for Syracuse in his freshman and sophomore seasons before splitting time as a starter with fellow center Dave Siock in his junior and senior years.

McRae would not make Washington's roster, instead traveling overseas to play in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

The NBA's Denver Nuggets would sign him to a 10-day contract in 1999, but nothing panned out for McRae as a result of him blacking out twice while practicing for the team.

In 2000, McRae was a member of the Orlando Magic summer league squad. During one of their practices, McRae would have a heart attack and pass away at a mere 29 years of age.

Lawrence Moten would also go in the second round as a result of the Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies' 1995 selection.

He would leave Syracuse as their all-time leading scorer (2,334 career points), which still stands today. Moten created that total by scoring no less than 500 points per season in all of his four seasons with the Orange.

In all four of his seasons at Syracuse, Moten totaled at least 17 points per game. His best performance came as a junior, when he averaged 21.5 points per contest.

The Syracuse alum would start in all but three of the 121 games he played in over his four-year span.

He would leave Syracuse having won Big East Conference Rookie of the Year and being named to the conference's First Team in three of his four seasons.

Moten would play with the Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies for two seasons before playing for one season with the Washington Bullets (now Wizards).

Staying in the United States, Moten would compete in the CBA and ABA, before playing outside of the country. Moten would play in Italy, Spain, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

His jersey will be retired by the Orange in the upcoming 2013-14 season.

The final Syracuse alum to be drafted in this decade was John Wallace, who went in the first round to the New York Knicks.

Wallace started in every game he played in for Syracuse (127).

He made more than half of the shots he took for his collegiate career, drastically improving his outside shot in his senior season where he made 42.1% of his attempts.

On the boards, Wallace always offered the Orange no less than seven rebounds per game as he continued to heighten his offensive scoring presence. Increasing with each passing season, he was scoring 11 more points per game in his senior season (22.2) than he did as a freshman (11.1).

Wallace would help lead the chant, "The 'Cuse is in the house, oh my God," en route to the national championship game in his senior season. Though Syracuse did not defeat Kentucky, it was not for lack of effort by Wallace who finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

He would go on to play professionally for the Knicks on two separate occasions, the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns, and Miami Heat. Wallace spent most of his NBA career coming off the bench, but as a starter with the Raptors he attained 14 points per game.

In total, Wallace contributed almost eight points per game over seven NBA seasons.

He would head overseas after his time in the NBA to play in Italy.

Overall, of the seven Orange players selected in the 1990s, five of them went in the draft's opening round.

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