Former Syracuse forward Ryan Blackwell took the non-traditional route to Central New York. Despite attending high school in nearby Pittsford (N.Y.), Syracuse was not the initial school of choice when he entered college.
”Well I went to Illinois my freshman year first,” Blackwell said. “I went to high school in Rochester. I grew up as a ball boy for Illinois as a little kid. So I always wanted to go there. Then the coaching staff all left and I ended up transferring back to Syracuse.
”It was an easy transfer. When I was in high school they were right there. Great program, great history and coach Boeheim was a great coach. That made it an easy transfer for me.”
Once he arrived at Syracuse, he became a starter right away. He would remain in the starting lineup for the duration of his Orange career. He was a strong rebounder and skilled scorer. His best season was his sophomore campaign when he averaged 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Overall, his career numbers were solid at 11.8 points and 7.8 boards every time he stepped onto the floor. He helped Syracuse win the 1999-2000 Big East Regular Season Title along with Etan Thomas and Jason Hart. That trio formed one of the more memorable groups in modern Syracuse history.
”It was an overall great experience,” Blackwell said. “We won a lot of big games with Jason and Etan. They went on to play in the NBA and I played overseas for a long time. Just going to practice with those guys every day and hanging out with them on campus. Playing in the Dome and practicing at Manley were great. It was just a great overall experience. And trekking through the snow every other day.”
One of the most memorable moments in Blackwell’s Orange career was a game-winning shot in the 1998 Big East Tournament Semi-Finals against St. John’s.
”It’s definitely that one (against St. John’s),” Blackwell said. “I get reminded of that a lot of times. It’s on YouTube. When you Google my name it comes up. So I always remember that shot. To hit a shot like that in Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament, there’s nothing like that.”