Can anyone be surprised that Carmelo Anthony is entering the NBA draft? Not after the unbelievably productive NCAA Tournament he had in leading Syracuse to the school's first national championship. Not after the sensational season he had as the nation's most dominant diaper dandy in a year full of fabulous freshman.
Carmelo brought joy to Syracuse fans who had waited so long for that golden NCAA moment. And he delivered big-time for his coach, Jim Boeheim, who won his first NCAA title after near-misses in two previous title games ('87 and '96).
|Carmelo Anthony is taking his mile-high game to Denver.|
Carmelo became just the third freshman to win the Most Outstanding Player award at the Final Four, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds with a sore back in the 81-78 win over Kansas. On Saturday in the national semifinals vs. Texas, he scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Is Carmelo's move a shock? Think about it. There's no doubt that he'll be one of the top five picks in the NBA draft. And there's no question that he'll become a star at the next level.
Anthony is a flat-out superstar who can perform on the big stage under the bright lights. He'll knock down the jumper, he'll post up on the interior, he'll make the pretty pass and he'll hit the boards. He's the total package.
Unlike so many other underclassmen who have entered the NBA draft early, Carmelo is ready. People like Alabama's Rod Grizzard and Michigan State's Marcus Taylor and St. John's Omar Cook all listened to the wrong people who gave them the wrong advice -- that they would be NBA first-rounders and get that guaranteed first-round contract. But they wound up out of the first round and became basketball vagabonds.
Take it to the bank: Carmelo is a legit first-rounder.
Looking ahead for Syracuse, the Orangemen certainly will miss a player of Carmelo's phenomenal stature next season. But look for big things from diaper dandies Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin and sophomore Hakim Warrick. Edelin missed the first part of this past season due to what I thought was an unfair suspension, but he'll be able to start strong right out of the gate in 2003-04.
Syracuse also has a strong recruiting class coming in, so the beat will go on for the Orangemen. Boeheim will add to his resumé and to his career victory totals -- and he'll continue to make a case for the Hall of Fame.