Syracuse Basketball: Carmelo Anthony would have made millions in NIL

Syracuse basketball, Carmelo Anthony (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Carmelo Anthony (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images) /

As I was reporting a few days ago about businessman and top SU booster Adam Weitsman offering a three-year, seven-figure name, image and likeness deal to 2024 five-star point guard Elliot Cadeau, this development got me thinking about Syracuse basketball legend Carmelo Anthony and what he could have earned in NIL.

Anthony only played one season for the Orange, but he certainly made the most of his time in Central New York. During the 2002-03 stanza, he averaged about 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, leading the ‘Cuse to the program’s first and only national championship.

He was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four. He was the national freshman of the year and an All-American. He is forever etched in Syracuse basketball immortality.

Understandably, Carmelo Anthony didn’t return to the Hill after 2002-03. He was a high pick in the NBA Draft and went on to a long and successful professional career.

Former Syracuse basketball star Carmelo Anthony would have made significant NIL dollars.

NIL deals are only in their infancy, dating back around 1.5 years, but already I’ve come across numerous reports of college basketball players drawing seven-figure incomes in profiting off their own names, images and likenesses.

Some high-school prospects, like Cadeau, are getting big-time NIL offers, too. But NIL dollars heading to recruits is a bit murkier, given that these sorts of agreements can’t be used as an inducement for a player to commit to a particular college or university.

In any event, I feel fairly confident in prognosticating that Anthony would have cleaned up as far as NIL is concerned.

Immediately prior to joining the Orange, Anthony averaged 21.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest for the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., according to SU Athletics.

Multiple media outlets lauded him as a first-team All-American, and Carmelo Anthony was regarded by various recruiting experts as the No. 1 player in the class of 2002.

To put this into context, Cadeau had a three-year, seven-figure NIL deal offered to him. Cadeau, who recently picked North Carolina after having Syracuse basketball in his top six, is a top-10 national prospect and the No. 1 point guard in the 2024 cycle, per several recruiting services.

While he’s a tremendous talent, and I mean no disrespect here, I’m not sure that Cadeau is the same transcendent prospect that Anthony was coming out of Oak Hill Academy.

As Myron Medcalf of ESPN wrote in a recent article, Melo’s “run through the 2003 NCAA tournament changed Syracuse basketball.”

Now, in all fairness, if NIL was around back then, Anthony may have ended up at a different school. Who knows, really.

But if he was still headed to the Orange, I bet he would have gotten at least $1 million in NIL deals prior to even joining Syracuse basketball.

As Anthony, a 6-foot-8 forward as a freshman, became more and more of a star for the ‘Cuse throughout that beautiful 2002-03 season, perhaps more NIL dollars would have rolled in his way.

And, could NIL opportunities have led him to stay at Syracuse basketball for more than one campaign? Likely not, given he ended up the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Were Carmelo Anthony to have played for the Orange one more year, though, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could have earned several million dollars from NIL deals in his two terms in Central New York.

Naturally, this entire article is complete speculation, but I still find it a fascinating topic to explore.

Medcalf, in his recent piece, ranked the top 25 most valuable college basketball players since 2000 (and before NIL came into existence).

Anthony checked in at No. 11. Male players ahead of him on Medcalf’s list included No. 2 Zion Williamson (Duke), No. 4 Kevin Durant (Texas), No. 5 Trae Young (Oklahoma), No. 9 Stephen Curry (Davidson) and No. 10 Jimmer Fredette (BYU).

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Carmelo Anthony loves that SU offered his 4-star son. dark