2008 does have 5 new eligible candidates: Mike Hopkins, Conrad MacRae, Glenn Sekunda, Dave Siock, and Michael Edwards. None, based on their current resumes, would warrant consideration for this year’s vote.
I think this year’s viable top candidates come down to the following seven, listed chronologically: Lew Castle, Joe Schwarzer, Billy Gabor, Vinnie Cohen, Roosevelt Bouie, Rony Seikaly and Billy Owens.
Castle was a two time All-American at Syracuse, and was captain and leading scorer of Syracuse’s only undefeated team, the 1913-1914 squad that went 12-0.
Schwarzer was a two time All-American, and was captain and leading scorer of the 1917-1918 squad that went 16-1 and was retroactively named the National Champions by the Helms Foundation.
Gabor was a two time All-American, was a prolific scorer, becoming the first Syracuse player to score 1,000 points and led Syracuse to their first post-season tournament in 1945-1946 with the NIT Tournament.
Cohen was an All-American, the first Syracuse player to average 20+ points a game in a season, and led the team to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957.
Bouie was a two time All-American, a standout defensive player who led Syracuse to a 100-18 record in his four years.
Seikaly was an All-American, a standout defensive player whose outstanding play in the 1987 NCAA tournament took Syracuse to the brink of its first tournament championship.
Owens was a two time All-American, an outstanding all around player who carried Syracuse to a Big East regular season championship in 1990-1991 and three NCAA tournaments.
Strong arguments could be made for each player. However, the 2008 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame inductee is Billy Owens.
Owens came to Syracuse as an outstanding all-around player having won four basketball state championships in Pennsylvania. His unselfish play helped him easily fit into the loaded Syracuse team his freshman year, alongside stars Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson. Despite deferring to the upper classmen, Owens still managed 13 points a game that season and 6.9 rebounds.
With the graduation of Douglas, Owens would take on a more prominent role with the team his sophomore season, leading the team in scoring with 18.2 points a game. Owens helped take the pressure off of freshman point guard Michael Edwards, and much of the offense was funneled through Owens, who had 4.6 assists to go with his leading scoring and 8.4 rebounds a game.
Syracuse lost both Thompson and Douglas, and Owens would be the central player for Syracuse his junior season. He would not disappoint anyone with 23.2 points a game, becoming the first player under coach Jim Boeheim to score 20+ points a game. He added 11.6 rebounds a game and 3.5 assists. Owens carried the Syracuse team for most the season, allowing classmate Dave Johnson to be open and to blossom as a scoring threat. Syracuse would finish the regular season at 26-4, ranked #6 in the country, and still impressed the NCAA committee enough to get a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite a huge upset loss in the first round of the Big East tournament. Unfortunately, Owens and the Orangemen were snake bitten, as they were upset by Richmond in the first round of the tournament.
Owens would be the third pick in the 1991 NBA draft, and would play 10 seasons, though injuries his first couple of seasons would hamper him throughout his NBA career.