SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Five years after he enrolled for his
memorable year at Syracuse University, Carmelo Anthony helped break
ground Wednesday on a new basketball practice facility that will
bear his name.
"I just can't thank the Syracuse community enough for bringing
me here," said Anthony, who as a freshman led the Orange to the
2003 NCAA national championship and then left school to sign with
the NBA's Denver Nuggets. "I don't think anybody realizes how much
this is going to do for the men's and women's teams."
Flanked by head coach Jim Boeheim and athletic director Daryl
Gross, Anthony, shovel in hand and orange hard hat atop his head,
posed for photos next to the architect's rendering of the new $19
million complex, which will be called the Carmelo K. Anthony
Basketball Center. Anthony donated $3 million to get the
fundraising under way.
The 23-year-old Anthony, who grew up in a tough neighborhood in
Baltimore that he called "The Pharmacy" because of rampant drug
abuse, was beaming with pride.
"I don't think there is an active athlete in the world today
who has their own building, especially at my age," Anthony said.
"My plan when I came to Syracuse was to stay at least two to three
years. I didn't think I was going to do what I did in that one
year. But playing in front of 30,000 people, we was like the
Beatles, walking around and getting that love around the city. It
felt good. I always told coach Boeheim, 'Whatever you need me to
do, I'm going to do.'"
Gross said the university has accumulated $13.5 million to date
and hopes to have the entire amount necessary before construction
"It helps us and will continue to help us as we go forward.
That's a huge part of college basketball as a recruiting aspect,"
Boeheim said. "This new practice facility will bring us to the
very top of college basketball. It's the first time we can say
that. It's always been kind of a thought process with me over the
last few years that we needed our own practice facility. [Wife]
Juli and I talked about it and she asked Carmelo -- I was afraid to
"When he [Anthony] came in this door, we knew we had something
special right away. We didn't know how special. Once Carmelo really
came on board, it's not just his gift, which is obviously huge, I
think other people decided to get involved."
The basketball center, to be built adjacent to Manley Field
House, will have two courts, offices for both programs, an
equipment room and an aqua pool for rehabbing injuries. It will
take about 18 months to complete once construction gets under way.
"I've seen a few facilities, and there are a lot of nice ones
that are opening as we speak," Boeheim said. "I think in each
case they have been instrumental in helping those schools,
especially the early ones like Florida. I think that was a
tremendous boost for their program. Now, we will have one as
Women's coach Quentin Hillsman was ecstatic.
"This could have been different," said Hillsman, who carries
an image of the new facility to use as a recruiting tool and
already has attracted one of the school's strongest classes. "A
lot of programs in the country have practice facilities where their
women's teams aren't able to use it and aren't welcome. From day
one, one of the people that really supported us to be in there was
Gross said that once the new center opens it will relieve the
logjam that plagues both Manley and the Carrier Dome.
"With the weather here you have teams that are waiting in line
to get into the dome to practice," Gross said. "Now, all of a
sudden, exponentially you increase all your practice opportunities.
This is totally amazing."
Gross said FieldTurf, which was installed inside the Carrier
Dome prior to the 2005 football season, would also be installed in