While he only played one year of college basketball, Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony was a transcendent superstar for that one year. He is one of just five freshmen to ever be named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and he averaged a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Here's everything you need to know about Carmelo Anthony's college career with Syracuse.
Carmelo Anthony college basketball stats, vitals
Weight: 230 pounds
Years active: 2002-03
NCAA tournament record: 6-0
Career averages: 22.2 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game, 45.3% field goal shooting
What was Carmelo Anthony's record in college?
Syracuse went 30-5 in one season with Carmelo Anthony, including a 13-3 conference record in the Big East.
How many national championships did Carmelo Anthony win in college?
Carmelo Anthony won one national championship at Syracuse in 2003.
What kind of prospect was Carmelo Anthony in high school?
As a sophomore, Anthony was invited to the Nike Jamboree Invitational basketball camp, which invited 100 of the country's best underclassmen. As a junior, Anthony was named Baltimore City/County Player of the Year, while leading Towson Catholic to a conference title and a second-place finish in the Baltimore Catholic League tournament. He benefited from growing nearly five inches from his sophomore to junior year.
"A smooth and graceful 6-foot-7 junior swingman, Anthony, who could go from the point to the post, left an indelible impression," reported The Baltimore Sun. "Anthony, 16, is a multitalented yet unselfish player who has a lot of fun playing the game." Anthony averaged 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as a junior, despite regularly facing box-and-one defenses, where his defender would play man-to-man against him and the other four defenders would play a zone. He once had a 37-point, 17-rebound, nine-assist, six-block performance early in his junior season.
In the Baltimore Catholic League tournament final, with his team down by 10 with five minutes to play, Anthony scored his team's last 16 points, including four 3-pointers from NBA-range.
A story published in The Baltimore Sun described Anthony's high school conference as "a league in which a five-point victory falls into the category of being a blowout," so Anthony was putting up big numbers, against defenses designed to stop him, in a very competitive league.
Anthony attended Oak Hill Academy for his senior year, when he averaged 21.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for a 32-1 Oak Hill team that finished the year ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Super 25. Anthony's squad even beat LeBron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary team in a game in which Anthony had 34 points and 14 rebounds to James' 36 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony scored five of Oak Hill's six baskets in the fourth quarter.
Anthony was a starter in the McDonald's All-American game as a senior.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Anthony was a near-unanimous choice as the best high school senior in the country among its panel of experts. He was named to the Super Five alongside Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, J.J. Redick and Paul Davis.
What was Carmelo Anthony game like?
Anthony was a high-level scorer, first and foremost. He averaged 17.5 shots and 22.2 points per game as a freshman at Syracuse – seven more than any of his teammates – but he also led the Orange in rebounding, he was second in steals and third in assists, so the smooth forward did more than just score.
Anthony could score anywhere on the court, shooting almost 50 percent inside the arc and 33 percent behind it – high enough that opposing defenses had to respect his outside shot. Even though many modern basketball players have now moved away from the mid-range since there are higher-percentage shots available near the rim or higher-value shots from behind the arc, Anthony was lethal in between. His arsenal included a variety of head fakes, shot fakes and ball fakes. His footwork was impressive for a freshman, as he utilized his pivot foot, scanned the floor took advantage of mismatches.
Anthony loved the right wing, where he could drive to the lane, go baseline or step out and shoot a three. He could score in the post, off the dribble or as a catch-and-shoot threat.
What were some of Carmelo Anthony best games?
In Carmelo Anthony's college debut, he scored 27 points against Memphis inside Madison Square Garden. So it took no time at all for Anthony to be a scoring machine. In fact, he scored at least 21 points in each of his first nine games.
Anthony's best game in the 2003 NCAA tournament was in the Final Four against Texas, when he scored 33 points on an efficient 12-of-19 shooting with 14 rebounds and three steals. It was part of a three-game stretch in which Anthony posted consecutive double-doubles in the Elite Eight, Final Four and national championship game.
He had 20 points and 10 rebounds against Oklahoma in the Elite Eight. In Syracuse's title-clinching game against Kansas, Anthony made a run at a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The next player to record two double-doubles at the Final Four didn't come along until 2015!
In two games at the Final Four, Anthony was 6-of-9 from behind the arc, making three 3-pointers against Texas and Kansas after making just four in the previous four games. 'Melo was just the third freshman to be named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player.
You can watch the full replay of the 2003 national championship game between Syracuse and Kansas below:
What awards did Carmelo Anthony win in college?
Here are some of the awards Carmelo Anthony won in college:
- 2003 East Regional Team
- 2003 East Regional Most Outstanding Player
- 2003 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 2003 All-Tournament Team
- 2003 USBWA Freshman of the Year
- 2003 consensus Second Team All-American
- 2003 Big East Rookie of the Year
- 2003 Big East All-Rookie Team
- Finalist at the 2003 ESPY Awards
What records did Carmelo Anthony set in college and where does he rank among historical greats?
Here are some of the records Carmelo Anthony set in college and where he ranks on all-time statistical lists:
- 1st in the 2003 NCAA tournament in scoring: 121 points
- 1st in Syracuse history in points in a game as a freshman: 33 points
- 1st in Syracuse history in points in a season as a freshman: 778 points
- 2nd in Final Four history in points in a game: 33 points
- 2nd in Syracuse history in 3-point percentage in a single NCAA tournament (min. 3 games, 1.5 3-pointers per game): 47.6 3-point percentage
- 3rd in Syracuse history in points in a season: 778 points
- 3rd in Syracuse history in defensive rebounds in a season: 248 rebounds
- 3rd in Syracuse history in consecutive double-figure scoring games in a season: 35 games
- 3rd in Syracuse history in points in a single NCAA tournament: 121 points
- 4th in Syracuse history in double-doubles in a season: 22 double-doubles
- 4th in Syracuse history in career rebounding average in an NCAA tournament: 9.8 rebounds per game
- T-5th in Syracuse history in double-figure scoring games in a season: 35 games
- 6th in Syracuse history in field goals made in a season: 277 field goals
- T-6th in NCAA history in double-doubles as a freshman: 22 double-doubles
- 9th in Syracuse history in consecutive double-figure scoring games in a career: 35 games
What did people say about Carmelo Anthony?
Towson Catholic High School coach Mike Daniel: "Carmelo is a great kid and a great player. He's a team player who loves to get the other players involved. He does whatever it takes and is not worried about personal glory."
The Baltimore Sun: "His quickness, leaping ability, soft hands and scoring from the inside or perimeter made him a five-position player. Scouts and coaches from a host of Division I programs, including Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse, watched him play this season."
Recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski: "There is no confinement to his game. He plays both ends of the floor, which very few of the top players because they save themselves for offense. He plays for results rather than effects. He had the best first step since Fred Astaire. He just attacks the basket, and he plays to win. That's the bottom line."
Konchalski: "He wants to go to college. He would be the first person in his family to go to college. He will have a tremendous impact there, but I don't think he'll stay there very long. If he were to stay, he'd be one of the greatest players to ever put on the orange."
Hoop Scoop's Clark Francis: "He doesn't handle the ball in the open court as well as Tracy McGrady, but he's better inside than Tracy McGrady. He definitely shoots it better at the same stage than Tracy McGrady. Carmelo Anthony is really impossible to stop, and as a result he shoots an awful lot of foul shots."
Bill Lyon of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "And there is this – he's only 18. He may have yet another growth spurt in him. He is still learning the game, the key point there that he is willing to learn rather than assume he already knows all that is required. At 6-foot-8, he simply overpowers any guards or small forwards. Against a larger foe, he is past them in half a hiccup. And he is an adept and productive rebounder, especially on the offensive glass."
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: "We've got a guy at Syracuse who hasn't liked any of our players and he likes Carmelo."
Boeheim: "I think the thing with Carmelo is, the players all accepted him because of who he is and the kind of person he is. They understand he's about winning, doing what's best for the team. I think any time a freshman comes in and takes 150, 200 more shots than the next guy, there's always a chance somebody might not react well to that, given the culture of today's player. But because he is who he is, I don't think that was ever an issue."
Boeheim: "It's obvious with his stats, he's had a bigger impact on our team and on the league, really, than any freshman has in a long time. You have to go back to Patrick (Ewing) and Chris Mullin and Pearl (Washington) as far as freshmen having an impact on our league. Those are the three guys as freshman that have had the most impact, and I think probably (Allen) Iverson in recent history. But Carmelo's had at least equal or more impact than all those guys in what he's been able to do."
Former Syracuse teammate Gerry McNamara: "I'll say it, I feel he's the best player in the country right now."
McNamara: "The first time I saw him he was killing people (in pickup games). He left me shaking my head. He hasn't disappointed anyone. He's the best player I've ever played with."
Former Syracuse teammate Hakim Warrick: "A guy like Carmelo comes around once every 10 years. Everyone knows he had led us here. Everyone knows that whenever he wants, he can take over a game."
Former Texas coach Rick Barnes: "He made us change our defense and the way we played. When he wasn't scoring, he was opening up someone else by making us adjust to him."
Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson: "What can't he do that LeBron does?"
Former Kansas forward Nick Collison: "He's as good a freshman that's ever played college basketball."
Former Syracuse teammate Keith Duany: "He's a great player, one of the greatest to ever put on a Syracuse uniform. He showed it throughout the year. He's a great player. That's all I can say."
Carmelo Anthony quotes
Anthony, reflecting on scoring 27 points in a season-opening loss to Memphis: "And we lost, and I was the only guy in double figures. That got me thinking. Now, if I score 20 and other guys are scoring, we're a better team."
Anthony on his teammates: "The first day I stepped on the court, I felt like they had their arms open to me and took me in. From that day on, I knew I was around family and we were going to do good things this year."
Anthony on watching friend Juan Dixon cut down the nets with Maryland in 2002: "When I was watching that game, I thought I was part of it. I was just so into it. For him to actually be playing in the game and win it. I want that same feeling Monday night. It doesn't get any better than this. The Final Four is the biggest event ever besides the Super Bowl. Hopefully, we get a ring out of it."