SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Four days after Syracuse lost in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament, star point guard Michael Carter-Williams has decided to enter the NBA draft.
“I want to thank coach (Jim) Boeheim and all the coaches for the amazing experience I’ve had playing basketball at Syracuse,” Carter-Williams said in a statement Wednesday. “I also want to thank my current and past teammates because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to chase my lifelong dreams.
“In addition, the fans, who have been unbelievable from the moment I got here, I’ll always be a proud member of the Syracuse program.”
The 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams started all 40 games for the Orange this season. He finished fifth nationally in assist average (7.3) and fourth in steals (2.78) among Division I players, and also averaged 11.9 points and a team-best 35.2 minutes.
His star rose greatly in the postseason as he led Syracuse on a scintillating run after an end-of-year skid. In free fall with four losses in five games to close the regular season, the Orange beat Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and Georgetown in the Big East tournament before falling to eventual national champion Louisville in the title game at Madison Square Garden.
In the NCAA tournament, Carter-Williams scored a career-high 24 in an upset of top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals of the East Regional, just days after his family home had been ravaged by a fire. Two days later, in the regional final, he had 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals with just one turnover in a victory over Marquette and was named the most outstanding player of the regional.
“He’s coming off a tremendous season and we appreciate all he’s done for Syracuse basketball,” Boeheim said. “We wish Michael the best of luck as he pursues a pro career.”
Carter-Williams, of Hamilton, Mass., is being projected as a lottery pick. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is April 28.
In his lone year as a starter, Carter-Williams broke the school record for steals in a season with 111 and finished with 292 assists, the second-highest total in Syracuse history behind only Sherman Douglas’s record of 326 in 1988-89. Carter-Williams also recorded nine double-doubles.
Syracuse, which finished 30-10, ended the season with a 61-56 loss to Michigan Saturday. Carter-Williams fouled out with 1:14 left, giving a big tug on his jersey while walking to the bench after a 1-for-6 shooting night that included just two assists with five turnovers.