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Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Anthony has little left to prove in college

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

NEW ORLEANS -- It wasn't like we tried to catch Carmelo Anthony. But he opened the door.

Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Monday night.

Anthony stumbled upon answering the obvious question of whether he would return to Syracuse for his sophomore season.

When asked, Anthony said, "I don't know yet.''

So, when would he make up his mind about returning?

"Probably after the season,'' he said after being named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player in leading Syracuse to the national championship Monday night at the Superdome.

But the season ended.

"I mean, after the school year,'' Anthony said.

In May?

"Yeah,'' Anthony said.

In time for the May 12 early-entry deadline for the NBA draft?

"Yeah,'' Anthony said.

OK, we know, it was early and Anthony wouldn't be expected to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft minutes after winning the national title. But what else could he do for an encore?

Anthony admitted that he didn't think the Orangemen would win the national title this season. He said he thought they were "one year away, but I guess we proved that wrong.''

The question is: Would he have stayed for that one more year if Syracuse hadn't won on Monday?

He wasn't answering.

T-Shirts are being sold on Syracuse's campus that say, "Real Men stay two years.'' He has been serenaded by thousands of fans of "One more Year.'' Monday night the Syracuse fans did it again.

If he did, it would be one of the most amazing decisions ever, considering the onslaught of players who have bolted early for the NBA. Anthony has nothing left to prove as a college basketball player. He could continue his academic endeavors, but although that would be a noble gesture, there is no reason for him to return.

Anthony was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four. The Orangemen won the title. Anthony was the national freshman of the year and an all-American. He should have been a first-team all-American (yes, even with us here at ESPN.com) and maybe could have won the national player of the year award.

"I told you he was the best player in the country,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Not just the best freshman. The best player.''

Anthony is a candidate for the No. 1 draft pick if a team wants to take him over Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary's LeBron James or Yugoslavian center Darko Milicic. Anthony might slide to No. 3 in the June draft -- but he could end up being the best player.

The 6-8 Anthony is the perfect NBA small forward who has ball skills to play the point. He had seven assists in the first half against Kansas. He hit big-time shots and can score from anywhere on the court. He's a leader and dominated the NCAA Tournament unlike any other player since Pervis Ellison did for Louisville in 1986.

Decide after the school year? Come on. The decision likely has been made and no one -- not even any graduation rate experts -- should complain. Anthony has given back to Syracuse every penny it spent on his scholarship. And then some.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.



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