There are drawbacks to having a player turn pro after one season. But you won't hear Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim complain.
The Orangemen reaped the ultimate benefit of having the highly touted 6-foot-8 Carmelo Anthony on their team for one season -- the national championship.
Less than a month after cutting down the nets in New Orleans, Anthony announced he was making himself available for the NBA draft. Shortly after his 19th birthday, Anthony was picked third by the Denver Nuggets. Today he is a millionaire in the NBA.
Ask Boeheim if the risk of signing a star such as Anthony was worth it, and you'll get an "absolutely."
Although Anthony's relationship with Syracuse lasted less than nine months, Boeheim clearly has no regrets.
"He has done more for Syracuse basketball than any player we've ever recruited and has ever played here," Boeheim said. "As much as we would like to have him here, he was ready to play at the next level. You have to move on and I never tried to talk him out of it. Win or lose the national championship, I would still say it was the right decision.
"The publicity, the awareness of the program that you get, and the publicity Carmelo is getting, that's your reward."
Boeheim said he didn't know exactly what he was getting when he signed Anthony out of Oak Hill Academy.
"When we were recruiting him, it didn't look like he'd go in one year," Boeheim said. "It looked like we'd have him at least two, maybe three years."
Anthony played in all 35 games for Syracuse (30-5), averaging 22.2 points, 10 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 steals. He was Big East and national freshman of the year.
But it was his performance at the Superdome during the Final Four that brought Anthony fame and fortune. He earned MVP honors after scoring 20 points and getting 10 rebounds in the championship game against Kansas. He scored 33 points and had 14 rebounds against Texas in the semifinals.
By then, the secret was out, and Anthony was gone.
"The main thing is you have to be prepared if you think a player might leave, and we were," Boeheim said. "You can't have six OK guys and then this one player. We signed two forwards and we told them if Carmelo was back this year, they weren't going to play a lot. Fortunately, they went ahead and signed with us anyway, and we're going to be all right."
Boeheim said he doesn't consider recruiting high school players who say they might jump directly to the NBA. "We eliminate him right there," he said.
At his press conference in April, Anthony appeared to have struggled with his decision to turn pro. "I really don't want to leave," he said. But after meeting all his college goals in one season and feeling his NBA marketability was at a peak, Anthony felt he had no choice.
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