The Syracuse University men’s basketball program has had its share of stars pass through during Jim Boeheim’s tenure as head coach. Of course, not everyone who arrives at SU winds up working out. It’s not always that they’re busts, necessarily, but either they just fail to live up to the hype, or they’re never able to actually get onto the court in the first place. Perhaps the most famous of these players is Winfred Walton.
Now, here’s a personal note on Walton, and his impact on my Syracuse fandom. Right around the time Walton was being recruited out of Detroit Pershing, I was about 15 years old and found myself swept up in college hoops recruiting for the first time. I spent far too much time tracking down my very first Syracuse message board in order to follow along with any tiny bits of news coming out about Walton’s recruitment in particular. Keep in mind, this was before Scout or Rivals existed, so basically any information was coming from the Post-Standard or anyone who happened to know someone who knew someone who lived in Detroit.
Of course, that old AOL board eventually morphed into the present day Syracusefan.com, the most popular Syracuse athletics message board on the internet, and a board that’s linked to this very website because I still visit it daily, nearly 20 years later.
Walton committed to the Orange, and earned McDonald’s All-America recognition in addition to earning effusive praise from Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman, who compared him favorably to Billy Owens and Carmelo Anthony. Unfortunately, Walton could never get his grades worked out, and never saw the floor for Syracuse, ultimately finding his way to Fresno State. Under Jerry Tarkanian, Walton averaged 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in his only season before fading into obscurity.
It’s with Walton in mind that we talk about what I’m calling the Winfred Walton All-Stars: guys Syracuse fans were excited to see suit up for the Orange, but who never really developed into the players we’d hoped they would, for whatever reason.
The former Pershing star was a McDonald’s All-American in 1996, and was one of the most highly rated recruits in Jim Boeheim’s tenure at Syracuse. He was considered by most to be one of the top 10 players in his class, but as I covered above, his grades are what failed him. By the time he showed up at Fresno State, he was already out of shape, and the talented forward left after one season. He went undrafted, and eventually played a little bit in the CBA. The former Michigan “Mr. Basketball” is perhaps the all-time “what if” player in Syracuse history.
Ramel “Rock” Lloyd
A former Parade All-American who never panned out at Syracuse, Rock Lloyd came to CNY out of shape at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He appeared in 25 games as a freshman but wasn’t nearly the player most Orange fans were hoping he’d be, averaging just 4.6 points in about 10 minutes per game. The NYC baller transferred out of Syracuse after a single season, finding his way to Long Beach State and former SU assistant Wayne Morgan. Rock wound up having a respectable career at LBSU, averaging 17.4 points in his three seasons and earning first team All-Big West honors as a senior.
Mark Konecny wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American, but the 6-foot-9 from Connecticut arrived at Syracuse with a fair amount of hype. He was Connecticut’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a high school senior, and came in as part of the class that included Billy Edelin, Josh Pace, Hakim Warrick, and Craig Forth. He had a reputation as a skilled big man, but we never got to see that on the court. He only played in two games in Orange before leaving school in November of his freshman season amid rumors he was involved in some sketchy off the court actions, along with having some academic struggles. Konecny became the poster boy for transferring through multiple schools, finding his way to five more schools, eventually finishing his career at Lambuth University, an NAIA school in Tennessee.
Moving a little closer to home, Dayshawn Wright was a homegrown product who eventually found his way to Oak Hill Academy before signing with the Orange. The 6-foot-6 Wright was an undersized power forward, but a physical specimen who relied more on his strength and athleticism than any actual basketball skill to punish high school forwards. Wright only played 10 games once he arrived at Syracuse, averaging just 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game before leaving school. He transferred to Mountain State University, an NAIA school in West Virginia, but never played a single minute of college basketball again.
Not many people probably remember this at this point, but former Pittsburgh center Mark McCarroll, a 6-foot-10 big man from Christ the King in New York City, initially committed to Syracuse before grades became an issue. McCarroll was recruited in the same class as Jeremy McNeil and was expected to be part of a two headed monster in the paint for the Orange, but obviously that never panned out. Instead, McCarroll found his way to Pitt, where he put up career averages of 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers.
Going back a little further, Anthony Harris was a two-time Parade All-American who signed with the Orange and played as a freshman during the 1991-1992 season. The 6-foot-1 guard from Connecticut came with a huge reputation, but came in just, well, huge. He arrived at Syracuse woefully out of shape, packing 215 pounds on his relatively small frame, and appeared in 18 games for the Orange while averaging 3.5 points in his one and only season under Boeheim. Harris transferred to a community college in Iowa before winding up at Hawaii, where he scored just 4.9 points as a junior before exploding for 22.4 points per game as a senior.
Another big, skilled forward who never panned out thanks in large part to academics was Charles Gelatt, a 6-foot-7, 235 pound guy from Binghamton who stayed in state to play for the Orange. Right out of the gates he struggled to make it academically, nearly failing to qualify before playing limited minutes behind John Wallace, then a sophomore. Gelatt appeared in 22 games as a freshman, averaging just 2.5 points, and transferred first to a community college in Kansas before winding up at DePaul, where his off the court troubles would limit his career. He only played in 10 games as a junior due to academics, and after averaging 12.9 points and 7.0 rebounds in 15 games as a senior, he was booted from the team for violating team rules.
A highly regarded 6-foot-3 guard out of California, Earl Duncan came to Syracuse in 1986 but had to sit out his freshman season as a Prop 48 qualifier. His sophomore season he found himself playing behind Sherman Douglas, averaging 6.4 points and 3.2 assists in 35 games, but the unhappy Duncan wasn’t content to come off the bench and transferred to Rutgers for his final two seasons. Duncan averaged 14.6 points, 3.7 assists, and shot better than 40% from three point range in his two seasons with the Scarlet Knights. He and fellow Syracuse transfer Keith Hughes led Rutgers to the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in his time there.
The guy with the best name on this list, Tiki Mayben was another local product, and after his freshman season he was rated as the best player in America by the website Hoop Scoop. It seemed a foregone conclusion that he would wind up playing ball at Syracuse, his childhood dream school, but it never worked out. Mayben was all set to come to Syracuse before his grades fell short, instead eventually finding his way to UMass, where the 6-foot-2 point guard played a single season for the Minutemen before transferring to Binghamton. Off the court trouble hounded Mayben throughout high school and continued into college, culminating in his arrest for selling cocaine in 2009.
Bonus Addition: Karlton Hines
Now, I had to add this one in, simply because I couldn’t believe I’d never heard the story and it’s pretty clear that Karlton Hines was the epitome of wasted basketball talent. Hines was a versatile forward from New York City who had committed to Syracuse after, word has it, Jim Boeheim himself marched into some of the most dangerous projects in the city to get him to join the Orange. Hines never made it to SU, though, and fell into the world of drugs, getting gunned down just a few years later. Documentaries have been made about Hines, making it more unbelievable I’d never heard the story. I guess the combination of this being well before the internet and recruiting sites, along with the fact that I was only about nine years old when he was being recruited, led to him slipping under my radar.