Draft Lookback: Syracuse in the '00s

With a 2003 national championship accomplished, those that once donned orange and blue headed to the professional ranks while others playing around that time advanced as well. More inside.

Eight players coming from Syracuse University were called up by the NBA at the turn of the century.

In 2000, not only did computers continue working and lights proceeded to shine in homes, the Y2K also did not affect the sport of basketball as Etan Thomas and Jason Hart were both given opportunities to keep moving forward. Thomas was drafted in the first round, 12th overall, by the Dallas Mavericks. Hart was taken later in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Thomas would start his career behind Otis Hill, who had helped the Orange attain a spot in the national championship a season before (1995-96). In this his freshman season, Thomas put together 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game campaign, starting in about half of the games. He grabbed over 100 rebounds, split evenly on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Thomas would block 48 shots that season.

In his sophomore season, Thomas would become Syracuse's starting center and never relinquish the role through his senior season. He gave the Orange a bruising, tenacious inside presence who attacked the rim and protected it on the opposite end. Thomas made at least 60% of the attempts he took in those three seasons, staying close to the rim and never once trying to launch a shot from beyond the arc.

He would block more than 130 attempts by opponents in both his sophomore and junior campaigns, and keep that number over 100 in his senior season. For his efforts, Thomas would be named the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and as a senior.

As his play elevated, so did his accolades, making the Big East Conference Third Team in his sophomore season, the Second Team as a junior, and the First Team in his final season with Syracuse.

Thomas would compete for nine seasons in the NBA, but was absent from his rookie season due to a toe injury and the 2007-08 season after needing open-heart surgery.

The Mavericks traded him while he was out in his rookie season, making the first team he played with the Washington Wizards. He spent the majority of his professional career, seven of nine seasons, with the Wizards. Thomas would then be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves who traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder without him playing a game for Minnesota. He remained with the Thunder for one season before playing with the Atlanta Hawks in his final season (2010-11).

Hart was a starter from the moment he entered the university, coming onto the court as a starter in 131 of 132 games.

He created for his teammates, having no less than 140 assists per season. In his senior campaign (1999-00), Hart had over 200 assists.

While creating on the offense, he did so on the defensive end as well, taking the ball away from opponents over 50 times per season, with 90 or more steals in two of his four seasons with the Orange.

During Hart's tenure with Syracuse, they achieved a spot in the Sweet 16 twice.

The 2000-01 season was Hart's first in the NBA, but he would play only one game for the Bucks before getting injured.

He went down to the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) to play with Asheville before being called back to the NBA by the San Antonio Spurs.

In 2002-03, Hart played overseas in Greece.

He returned to the NBA to rejoin the Spurs and went on to play with the Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets (now Bobcats), Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New Orleans Hornets. While competing on the Nuggets' squad, Hart played with fellow Orange alum Carmelo Anthony and competed in the playoffs.

Hart is the cousin of two former Syracuse alum, Howard and Brandon Triche.

In the 2001 NBA Draft, Damone Brown was taken early in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers.

As a freshman, Brown totaled less than a game and a half in minutes (53) for the entire season (1997-98).

Brown got after the boards, pulling down at least five rebounds from his sophomore through to his senior season. He had 300 rebounds in his senior campaign (2000-01), with almost 200 of those rebounds coming on the defensive end alone.

In his final season, Brown had risen to at least 16 points and eight rebounds per game.

He would play with the 76ers before moving onto the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, and Washington Wizards, competing in four seasons in total in the NBA from 2001-05.

Brown played overseas in Japan during the 2006-07 season.

Carmelo Anthony followed in 2003 as the third overall draft pick after spending one season at Syracuse, helping the Orange to their first NCAA Tournament national championship.

He was selected by the Nuggets after starting in all 35 games of his freshman season. During that time (2002-03), he averaged no less than 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. He also aided his teammates in scoring, dishing the ball out for 77 assists.

Anthony had over 300 rebounds, with more than 200 coming on the defensive end.

Defensively, he stole the ball 55 times and blocked 30 shots.

With Anthony, Syracuse would get past Manhattan, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas en route to the 2003 trophy and Anthony's MVP of the tournament honor.

Anthony would also be honored as the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year and become a member of the conference's First Team.

After being drafted by the Nuggets, Anthony has competed in the NBA for 10 seasons, never averaging less than 20 points and having a career average of 25 points.

He has scored over 17,800 points as a professional.

Anthony helped bring the Nuggets to the postseason and the New York Knicks as well after being traded to the east coast for the 2010-11 season.

He led the entire league in scoring this past season with a 28.7 points per game average.

After making 68 three-pointers in the 2011-12 season, Anthony connected on 157 shots from long range last season.

Anthony played on the United States Olympic teams in 2004 and 2008, winning a bronze medal and gold medal, respectively, with former Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim working with him and the rest of the players as an assistant coach on the Olympic staff.

He continues to compete in the NBA with the Knicks.

His collegiate jersey was retired by Syracuse University during the 2012-13 season in a home match with rival Georgetown.

In 2005, Anthony's former teammate Hakim Warrick entered the NBA as well, going 19th overall as a first-round selection by the Memphis Grizzlies.

After blocking Kansas' last opportunity to tie Syracuse in the 2003 national championship game, Warrick returned for both his junior and senior seasons.

Warrick started from his sophomore through to his senior seasons. In that time, he averaged no less than 8.5 rebounds per game.

In his final two seasons (2003-05), he averaged at least 19 points per game, achieving more than 21 points per match on average in his final season with the Orange. He would aid the Orange in winning the Big East Conference Tournament in his last year (2004-05).

Warrick would be awarded as the Big East Conference Player of the Year for his senior campaign, adding to his accolade of being named the conference's Most Improved Player in his sophomore year.

He began his NBA career with the Grizzlies before playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), and Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). Warrick averaged 6.9 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Bobcats last season.

Demetris Nichols was the next draftee to come out of Syracuse University as a late selection by the Portland Trailblazers in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft.

He emerged from two lackluster scoring seasons to average 13.3 points per game in his junior year which he rose to 18.9, leading the entire Orange squad, in his senior year (2006-07). During that year, Nichols had his best collegiate success from beyond the arc, making more than 41% of his attempts.

Nichols was far more effective on the defensive glass than he was in gaining offensive rebounds, with 143 to 61 rebounds, defensivee to offensive, in his junior season and 140 to 50 rebounds for his senior campaign.

In the NBA, Nichols has spent time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks, while also playing in the NBDL.

After competing overseas in France, he returned to the NBDL to play with the Sioux Falls' squad in South Dakota, averaging at least 18 points per game.

He has played in Puerto Rico this year and is working on his return to the NBA with some possible suitors in the mix.

The Grizzlies would take their second Syracuse alum in three years when they drafted Donte Greene late in the first round in 2008.

Greene played one season for Syracuse (2007-08), starting in every game he competed in (35). He would average 17.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that season.

Of his 250+ rebounds, almost 200 of them came on the defensive end, where he blocked 57 attempts and stole the ball 45 times.

Despite his 6'11" stature, Greene rarely wanted to back down his opponents or receive the ball in the paint. He, instead, tried to be more of a jump shooter, including from long range, where he made 34.5% of his attempts.

After entering the NBA Draft following his freshman season, Greene would play three seasons with the Sacramento Kings with his best professional season coming in his second year in the NBA (2009-10), where he grabbed over 230 rebounds and averaged 8.5 points per game.

Following in 2009 was Greene's old teammate Jonny Flynn who went sixth overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Flynn played two seasons with the Orange, both as the team's starting point guard.

In his freshman season (2007-08), Flynn recorded at least 15 points and five assists per game. He elevated those averages to 17.4 points and 6.7 assists per game for the 2008-09 Syracuse season.

During the 2009 Big East Conference Tournament, Flynn would compete in 67 of the 70 minutes in a six-overtime thriller, helping the Orange to defeat the Huskies of UConn 127-117 with 34 points. Flynn was clutch at the charity stripe, making all 16 free throws that he attempted.

He would be the Timberwolves' starting point guard in his first NBA season (2009-10), averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game over 81 games.

A hip injury which required surgery would stall Flynn in his second season, also with the Timberwolves, where his points-per-game performance dropped by almost eight points.

Flynn would play with the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers in the 2011-12 season, averaging 4.5 points per game.

Despite his struggles as his time in the NBA went on, Flynn always averaged at least three assists per game over his three professional seasons.

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