- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2003

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) With tears in his eyes and a tremble in his voice, Carmelo Anthony delivered the news nobody around here wanted to hear.

"I'm here in front of you today to announce that I will not be coming back next year," Syracuse's standout freshman forward said yesterday, just 17 days after he led the Orangemen to their first national championship. "I will be moving on, moving on to the pros."

And just like that, all those pleas for Anthony to stay "One More Year!" were forgotten.

"This is a very happy day for Syracuse basketball, and a sad one, too," coach Jim Boeheim said, his voice cracking with emotion, too. "The guy sitting here has done more for Syracuse basketball than any player we've ever recruited or that's ever played here. To lead his team to a national championship as a freshman is truly a historic moment in college basketball. I'm very thankful that he was here with us."

Anthony had delayed making the decision until after the season, preferring to focus on winning. He led the Orangemen during the regular season with 22 points and 10 rebounds per game and broke Lawrence Moten's freshman scoring records and Derrick Coleman's freshman rebounding mark.

At the Final Four in New Orleans, Anthony had a career-best 33 points and also pulled down 14 rebounds in Syracuse's semifinal win over Texas. He then put up 20 points in the championship game victory over Kansas and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four just the third freshman to earn that honor.

"I've got to move on," said Anthony, who will turn 19 in May. "We won the national championship, I brought coach Boeheim what he was waiting for for 27 years. I don't want to make it sound bad, but there's really nothing more that I could get out of college. And I'm going to get my degree you can quote me on that."

Despite all his success, it was evident Anthony struggled mightily with the decision, which had haunted him almost from the start of the season. He said he made up his mind after discussing his situation with his mother, Mary, over Easter weekend, and his coaches.

"It was a tough decision for me to make," said Anthony, who was raised by his mom in a tough west Baltimore neighborhood. "I really don't want to leave, to be honest. My teammates, I'm going to miss them so much, but moving on is an opportunity to take care of my family. It's something I always wanted to do, and now I've got the opportunity to do that."

Boeheim did not question the decision.

"In my mind, this is the right decision for Carmelo, as much as we would like to have him here," Boeheim said. "He's ready to play at the next level. College is to prepare you for what you're going to do in your life, and if it takes one year, then so be it."

Anthony's decision came sooner than expected underclassmen have until May 12 to make themselves eligible for the NBA Draft and left the Orangemen with mixed emotions.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26, and Anthony is expected to be a lottery pick. The draft lottery will be held May 22.

Anthony is the first Syracuse underclassman to declare early for the NBA since Billy Owens opted not to return for his senior season in 1991. Owens was the No. 3 pick that year. All-America guard Dwayne "Pearl" Washington jumped to the NBA after his junior season in 1986 and was the No. 13 pick.

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