Over five years and four months have passed since DaJuan Coleman sat in front of three state championship trophies at Jamesville-DeWitt High School and announced that he would be choosing to play basketball at Syracuse over Kentucky and Ohio State. Less than seven months ago, Andrew White III posted on Twitter for just the third time in three months to announce he was transferring to SU.
Two months ago, John Gillon poured in 43 points on 13 shots to lead the Orange to an overtime win on the road at NC State. Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye found out he made the team as a walk-on during his sophomore year, and found out he got a scholarship before his senior season. It was last January when Tyler Roberson hauled in 20 rebounds at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the team’s regular season win. On a cold Saturday afternoon, these five seniors played what was likely their last game in the Carrier Dome. All five joined the team at different times, and left their own mark on the program.
— Syracuse Athletics (@Cuse) March 5, 2017
As 30,448 fans spent their afternoon watching Syracuse dominate its regular season finale to beat Georgia Tech 90-61, each of the five seniors finished on a high note. Two of the toughest situations have come this year for Coleman and Roberson this year, after seeing the court much less than the previous season.
When Coleman arrived on campus, he was New York State’s “Mr. Basketball,” ESPN’s number 14 prospect in the nation, and had a 97 out of 100 grade from Scout. Expectations were immediately set high for the local talent, but tough injury circumstances caused him to miss extended periods of time throughout his career. After missing his entire junior season due to knee surgeries, he came back his senior year and played 17 minutes per game. This season, however, nagging injuries came back, which had forced him to be out of the rotation since for a majority of the year. As Saturday’s game winded down, chants of “We Want Coleman” erupted in the Dome. At the 3:02 mark of the second half, DaJuan checked in the game to a standing ovation to play out the final minutes. As Jim Boeheim has said numerous times, and again after this game, there are few tougher and more driven than Coleman has been all career for SU.
Boeheim on Coleman: Said he was told after injury Dajuan would never play, credits him for continuing to play based on toughness.
— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) March 4, 2017
As for Tyler Roberson, ups and downs have been nothing new for the Union, New Jersey native. While one of the best rebounders in recent memory, he’s been no stranger to long stints in Jim Boeheim’s doghouse. During his junior year, he saw his minutes drop later in the regular season, before many sensational efforts in postseason play. Known for his defensive efforts as well as crashing the boards, Roberson has always done many of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Whether it be playing defense with his arms straight up, tipping the ball out for an offensive rebound, or a put back dunk to get the crowd energized, Roberson has had many game changing plays during his time on the hill. His day on Saturday included thunderous applause for the ceremony, as well as a big time slam in the paint. Also capitalizing was the always energetic master of bench celebrations, Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye. Doyin celebrated Senior Day with a bucket in the final minutes.
Taking in multiple graduate transfers is fairly uncharted territory when it comes to Syracuse basketball. However, the decision to go after Andrew White III and John Gillon III surely paid off. Throughout his time this season, what Orange fans were so excited to get in Andrew White III was exactly what they got, a high volume scorer. White scored 20 plus points in seven straight games for the Orange this year, and is the team’s leading scorer. White’s consistent scoring capabilities have come up huge, culminating in Saturday’s 40 point explosion.
There are few players that Syracuse fans will remember more for one season of play than John Gillon. The undersized point guard carried the load to beat NC State, and of course his bank shot beat Duke at the buzzer. Starting out the year as the 6th man, he took the reins at point guard from Frank Howard and developed into an offensive catalyst. After he posted a double-double on senior day, Jim Boeheim noted that he wished Gillon could come back for another year, saying that “He’d be an all-league player.”
While the five Syracuse seniors all have different stories, their influence on the program cannot be understated. No matter what happens for the rest of the year in postseason play, the memories that these five created for fans during their time in the 315 will always remain.
Keith Bremer is a 2015 graduate of Newark High School and is currently attending Syracuse University and is a contributor to FingerLakes1.com. Comments and feedback on this article can be posted below or directed to Keith at [email protected].